Unitarian Universalist Church Does Not Quite Get it About Mothers Day and Adoption

I write today’s blog post from the point of view of being the daughter of two mothers: one who gave me life and the other who raised me.

It is not easy being the daughter of two mothers, especially since my time with my first mother was so short. She died when I was three months old. She was dying during her pregnancy with me — a death that resulted in my father’s grief and belief that his only option and the best choice of action he could do for me was to relinquish me to the total care of another set of parents.

I do not believe that was the best choice. I needed to be with the family I was born into.

But since I was raised instead by a stranger who became my mother through a legal decree, I struggle through the sadness and loss each and every day of my life. I grieve for the family I lost because of adoption. I grieve for the loss of a mother who left the earth far too early. I grieve for the mother who adopted me as she was misguided in her possessiveness. She clings to me now in a nursing home. I give her what I can, but mostly, what’s done is done. I’m sad for her suffering and pending death. I also have a step mother who is married to my natural father.

Mother’s Day is a day of sadness for me.

I start each Sunday, including Mother’s Day, by attending a service at my local UU Church.

It’s bad enough that a dear friend of mine, a mother of adoption loss, will not attend our local UU Church (she used to) for the hypocrisy there. I agree with her. There’s wealthy adoptive parents who give lip-service about the natural parents of the adopted children they hold dear. Like the adoptive mother who got a standing ovation for adopting a three year old Haitian earthquake survivor. And don’t get me started about the abundance of gays and lesbians at church who use ANONYMOUS sperm and eggs and surrogate mothers and don’t seem to care that they willingly withhold knowledge of the absent genetic parent(s) to the children so created. In the face of all of that, I still attend the Buffalo Unitarian Universalist Church. My friend doesn’t. I miss her. I honor her for her integrity to stay away.

I look beyond these human failings, even our minister who spoke awhile back about the appropriations of other religions, or rather, the miss-appropriations, without even noticing, or caring, that many people appropriate other people’s children with a sense of entitlement.

It is not easy to look beyond these in-your-face adoption assaults.

I am at this church weekly for the spiritual, intellectual, and suburb musical performances of our choir and musicians.

Today’s guest minister, Reverend Sally Hamlin, participated in a service inspired and encouraged by Debra Hafner, an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, sexologist and Director of the Religious Institute. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-debra-haffner/honor-thy-mother-reducing_b_549650.html

This was the responsive reading: http://www.religiousinstitute.org/sites/default/files/initiatives/Rachel_Sabbath_Responsive_Reading_Mothers_Day_0.pdf

A Responsive Reading for Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day, we honor mothers and caregivers everywhere – women who have given birth, women who have adopted children, women who care for the children of others.

We affirm the nurturing love of mothers, and the blessings of parenthood.

We pray for a society in which pregnancy is freely chosen, and mothers and children receive the care and support they need.

We affirm the sanctity of life and the moral agency of women.

We mourn the 1,500 women around the world who will die today in childbirth, or from the complications of pregnancy, because they lack basic health services.

We envision a world where childbirth is safe, and all children are wanted and loved.

Together, we break the silence surrounding women and their partners who suffer infertility, pregnancy loss, still births, and difficulties in adoption.

We bless them and hold them in love.

We celebrate the many ways that people create families and become mothers in our communities.

We call for a commitment to make every day Mother’s Day.

© Religious Institute, 2010, May 9

 

And this bulletin was read out loud:

Global Maternal Health

* Every minute, a woman dies in childbirth or from pregnancy-related complications – at least half a million women worldwide every year.

* 99 percent of all maternal deaths occur in developing nations. More than half occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and one-third in South Asia.

* Most maternal deaths take place during labor, delivery or in the immediate post-partum period. More than 3.4 million newborns die within the first week of life.

* More than one million children are left motherless every year due to maternal deaths. Children are three to 10 times more likely to die within two years of the mother’s death.

* The leading cause of death for girls ages 15-19 worldwide is pregnancy.

* There is no single cause of death and disability for men that compares with the magnitude of maternal death and disability.

* Doubling current global investments in family planning and pregnancy-related health care (to approximately $24.6 billion) could save the lives of 400,000 women and 1.6 million infants every year.

The Rachel Sabbath Initiative: Saving Women’s Lives supports the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal 5, which focuses on improving maternal health. The Religious Institute calls on congregations across the country to raise awareness and support for the UN’s targets of reducing maternal mortality worldwide and achieving universal access to reproductive health care by 2015. This initiative is named for the matriarch Rachel, who died in childbirth (Gen. 35:16-20).

Religious Institute, 21 Charles Street, Suite 140, Westport, CT 06880. Join the Faithful Voices Network at http://www.religiousinstitute.org

 

In an effort to spread the word that maternal health is important, the UU Church sorely misses the mark on the focus of adoption.

Here is what I AM ADDING to the above (in bold and italics):

We don’t have specific statistics, but for every adoptee there is a mother who gave birth. That mother suffers the loss of her child to adoption but society does not recognize nor acknowledge that loss. There are millions of childless mothers (because there are at least 6 to 7 million adoptees in America) who grieve for the loss of their babies and who dread Mother’s Day because they were made feel shame and guilt for even being a mother in the first place. We must practice Adoption Prevention.

 

A Responsive Reading for Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day, we honor mothers and caregivers everywhere – women who have given birth, women who have adopted children, women who care for the children of others.  We also honor mothers who have lost their infants to unwanted relinquishment to the adoption industry by resolving to end this practice of taking other mothers’ children as our own.

 

We affirm the sanctity of life and the moral agency of women.

We mourn the 1,500 women around the world who will die today in childbirth, or from the complications of pregnancy, because they lack basic health services. We mourn the countless women around the world who suffer the moral indignation of disrespecting the pregnancies and infant births by the unwanted snatching of their infants at the moment of birth at Crisis Pregnancy Centers and Birthing Rooms that allow adopting couples to witness the sacred moment of birth, and mothers who are victims of Open Adoption scams and Open Adoption Agencies. We mourn the scorn still inflicted upon young teens and young women who are not married and humiliated into giving up their wanted babies because society tells them they cannot parent their own children.

 

We envision a world where childbirth is safe, and all children are wanted and loved.

Together, we break the silence surrounding women and their partners who suffer infertility, pregnancy loss, still births, and difficulties in adoption. Difficulties in adopting other women’s children? We break the silence that women who desperately want their children are taken advantage of by the cruelty of the adoption industry — women who want their children ought to not suffer their children ripped from their arms into the waiting arms of adopting parents. If and only IF a child does not have caring parents is GUARDIANSHIP NOT ADOPTION ever a substitute for motherhood. In cases of abuse and neglect, removing a child from harm is best, but working toward reunification and stabilization of that family unit is primary to the wholeness of that mother and her children.

 

We bless them and hold them in love.

We celebrate the many ways that people create families and become mothers in our communities. We celebrate to every mother the right to be mothers in life, and to be named on their child’s birth certificate, not dishonored by sealing and falsifying that document. This means that we honor the facts of birth by issuing ONLY 1 true Certificate of Live Birth and strive for the abolition of the amended birth certificate in adoption; such a document is a mockery of motherhood. Ultimately we strive for the abolition of adoption itself for every mother who gives birth and who wants her child needs to be a mother and every child needs their mother. For adoptive mothers everywhere, we strive for the acceptance that the role of raising children can be handled by a caregiver who is a guardian who does not usurp the dignity of another mother by taking her child.

 

I have no choice but to accept that I have two mothers: one by birth and one by adoption. My lesson learned from my life lived in this reality is to strive for a better world in which the sanctity of motherhood is respected everywhere on this planet. What might appear to be harsh to the adoptive mothers out there is actually a plea: stop trying to own someone else’s child and if you must fulfill your desire to be in a parenting role, be a guardian and not an adoptive mother. A guardian respects that child’s identity and true mother. Adoption, by its very nature, disrespects both the child and her natural mother by destroying the natural mother-child bond. Caring and love in a parenting role can be achieved by guardianship. Offended? I am offended that my life as the daughter of my mother who died in my infancy was not honored nor respected because of the all-almighty power of adoption.

~ ~ ~ Joan M Wheeler, BA, BSW, author of Forbidden Family: A Half Orphan’s Account of Her Adoption, Reunion and Social Activism, Trafford Publishing, Nov 2009.

PS — See this post: Happy Birthmother Day or Happy Adopter Day; and this quote from AustinHolistic : Which makes me think, if a woman wants her child, we need to provide emotional support, financial support, and psychological support for women who want their children: and this post with this quote: There is no paradox, no contradiction and certainly no upside in having been on the loosing end of the adoption exchange.

 

 

 

 

Quick Words of My Own: The Message is More Important than Who Writes It

While I have been unable to find my own words since the earthquake in Haiti because suddenly there are orphans, orphans, everywhere orphans, or so-called orphans, I have found comfort in the words of others. This is why I have directed my readers to other bloggers who have written about the adopt-an-orphan craze that is sweeping America and parts of the world.

At the time the earthquake hit, I’m dealing with medical, legal, financial and emotional fallout from my adoptive mother in and out of the hospital and nursing home. I should be on top of the world — the book I spent the better part of the last seven years writing is now published! Instead, I’m sunk in depression.

Also, it just so happened that a few of my online friends have had inspirations, but with  no blogs of their own, they have asked me to guest-post their works. I am happy to do so.

And, to my surprise, another avenue of correspondence led to yet more postings from afar: the United Adoptees International, a worldwide adoptees news group, sent me Press Releases to post on my blog. Many of my readers are adoptees and first parents who circulate through our known blogs and websites, and, many of my readers are adoptive parent organizations who do not want adoptees’ birth records open to us, and who are foaming at the mouth to adopt those poor Haitian orphans who actually want to stay in their own home country with their families. So, as a comfort to me, and as a service to those who have asked me to post their material, I have posted material from others.

The United Adoptees International, based in The Hague, The Netherlands, is especially dear to me. I will close this quickly written post with this quote from an email  received this morning from the media director:  “… is ok to post our messages on your blog. The more people read our signals the better.” Usually, my correspondence is with the Director of the UAI, but as he was out of office, I corresponded with someone else.

The messages are clear and direct: while do-gooder people have the intention to help Haiti or other poor countries by taking their children to a “better” place with more money, etc, those foreign-born adoptees grow up and feel isolated from their homeland. It is far more important for the message to get out and to be read by people I know are reading my blog because they don’t like the messages here, than for me to have long stretches of time between my own posts. Writers do have other obligations in life so I am happy to post the words of others in between my own works. As the owner of the website and blog, that is my choice.

Joan M Wheeler, BA, BSW, author of Forbidden Family: A Half Orphan’s Account of Her Adoption, Reunion and Social Activism, Trafford Publishing, Nov 2009.

Intercountry Adoption Highly Regarded by American Public Even as Numbers of Adoptions are in Free-Fall

Many of you may be wondering why I, a half orphan, am not commenting much about the situation in Haiti. The reason is because this hits too close to my heart. Unlike most of the talk of adoption in America that surrounds the morality or immorality about the ‘sins’ of unwed mothers and how we ‘must’ keep birth records closed to adoptees for the sake of protecting those not-married mothers, real discussion concerning half orphans and full orphans has been lost inside this moralistic mockery. I’m tired of being lumped into this adoption abyss that does not pertain to how I came into this world. But now, orphanhood or the assumption of full orphanhood, is being tossed around just as carelessly as illegitimacy has been, and still is. I find it difficult to find words to defend the rights of other children who face the same fate as I did because their parents have died in the earthquake, or their parents just handed them over because the poverty suffered in their homeland outweighed any rational decisions.

Many other adoption reformers are doing a much better job in research and writing about the children of Haiti, so I bow to their excellent voices. The Daily Basdardette: http://bastardette.blogspot.com/2010/02/is-jorge-pulleo-really-jewish.html, 73adoptee: http://73adoptee.blogspot.com/2010/02/will-haiti-incident-reform-adoption.html, Baby Love Child: http://www.babylovechild.org/2010/02/17/haiti-fails-its-children-releases-8-child-scavengers-on-nothing-more-than-their-worthless-word/, Family Preservation: http://familypreservation.blogspot.com/2010/02/scary-libertarian-view-of-adoption.html, and First Mothers: http://www.firstmotherforum.com/2010/02/lets-hear-it-for-haitian-government.html, to name a few, have many blog posts and updates, so be sure to follow them.

My email inbox carries correspondence from United Adoptees International to an Adoption Advocate organization called Chances For Children. Please read this letter so you may become more aware of what grown adoptees actually feel about being adopted. (edited with the author’s permission and instruction, although I left in European spelling).

Joan M Wheeler

~ ~ ~ ~  

Friday, February 12, 2010, 5:11 AM

Intercountry Adoption Highly Regarded by American Public Even as Numbers of Adoptions are in Free-Fall

To:

Chances for Children

Dear Adoption Advocates,

We have been referred to your organisations by several articles send to us by different contacts around the world. We would like to inform you, that there are many organisations run and managed by adult adoptees who are not sharing your opinion and visions.

Besides this, we would like to request you be respectful but with exclamation to be careful to rewrite topics like adoptions as last resort as you did on your website. The impact of such statements is devastating for ‘family preservation’ projects and alternative family care.

Adoption has become and industry and it seems that your statements about intercountry adoptions seem to support this development. United Adoptees International and many of our contacts would like you to consider equality and support for women and families all around the world before adoption comes into perspective as a misguided concept of humanitarian aid. Huge flaws in international laws and treaties are thus created which abuse the human rights of vulnerable families and children.

Many researches around the world show the great danger of ‘child trafficking’ for adoption instead of supporting long term solutions for countries and families. Adoption has become a facility for ‘wish parents’ (PAP’s, or Pre-Adoptive Parents) and the world of consumers while it was meant as an option for children without families and local support. Approximately 2 billion euro per year is going around to support the adoption cycle. With this money all children, families and countries could have been helped to develop long term solutions for the ones in need. But as long the international adoption lobby is marketing adoption as solutions for children (many of them still have families or direct relatives) without material welfare and finance, we take advantage of the weak and abuse the context and situation in which they are confronted with, instead of understanding the need of the people in those countries who are affected by poverty, natural disasters, and war, etc.

The UAI finds the way international adoption is set up and continued as one-way traffic which makes the rich buyers or traders of the poor. And if we really believe that material welfare and finance gives us the right to get the children we want, than let us open the whole world as a free adoption market and exchange children for those who can afford them. Meaning, Dutch homosexuals already adopt (mainly colored children) from the US, while the US doesn’t want them. At least, that’s what the US advocates and government accepts as an argument to let children from the US go to the Netherlands. But why do US pre-adoptive parents adopt from Haiti now?

In the meanwhile, thousands of prospective US adoptive parents are waiting for white babies from Europe and the EU is opening their EU boarders for exchanging children within Europe. But we are sure, that if the US PAP’s (Pre-Adoptive Parents) will pay enough money, they will be able to get white children (who have still parents and family in the EU) from Europe. So let us open the whole world for the demand for adoption?

Is this what your people and organisation really want? Or would you be able to act in an ethical way, and with dignity, and open heart and ears, to those who have been affected by this child-caravan called adoption?

We urge you to read some statements from Adult Adoptees and reconsider your vision and tone of voice in this topic.

Sincerely,

Hilbrand W.S. Westra

Chairman UNITED ADOPTEES INTERNATIONAL

United Adoptees International is registered by the Chamber of Commerce under no. 34299425, in Amsterdam – The Netherlands. The UAI foundation is applicable under Dutch Law and refers in all her activities to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Especially articles 8, 16, 20 and 21. The UAI strives for equality and justicefor adoptees and human dignity to all whom are affected by separation and adoption.

From UAI: Coloured Kids Not Welcome in the US?

World is being deceived ?

Coloured kids not welcome in the US ?

While the Homolobby and the involved Adoption Agency in the Netherlands made clear last year, that the urgency is there to adopt coloured children from the US while they are not adoptable within US boarders, the US is lifting hundreds to thousands coloured children from Haiti right now.

The Dutch government and public were convinced that the necessity was there to enhance and extend US adoptions to the Netherlands in the interest of the children of colour.

No government ever demanded a thorough research nor included the opinion from adoptees of colour unless they supported the voice of adopters.

Neo Colonialism ?

It is a strange world where everyone forgot to look to the (natural) parents and adoptees and their needs. Instead, they keep the supply of children circulating as long the children are not theirs. And at the end, it looks that, the more colour you have, the easier the availability of these children for intercountry adoption exists.

If the conclusion is correct, than the long avoided debate about ‘possession’ and ‘power of decision’ by one part of the world colour ruling and deciding about other people of colour should raise questions. Some adoptees already wrote about mechanisms of neo-colonialism. To push the intercountry adoption issue towards this topic seems to be harsh and extreme, but it becomes day by day more difficult not to raise this question.

The hunt for children

With knowing all this and peace-corps and student recruiters scattered around the world to find new coloured children for the west, the question should be raised now; how valid are the adoptions from western countries based on colour ?.

Until now, no government has ever answered this question. But should it not become time now, the world should raise this question ?

United Adoptees International © 2010

Racist Comments on Haiti Prompt Re-Post of Statement by Adoptees of Color Roundtable

As the title of this blog post states, some very rude and ignorant racial slurs were left in my inbox this past weekend. I have closed all sections to Comments as a result. Also, though I am of mixed white ethnic groups, I fully support adoptees of color. Here is a re-print of their excellent statement on adopting Haiti’s earthquake victim children:

http://www.adopteesofcolor.org/?page_id=14

Statement on Haiti

Jan 25, 2010

This statement reflects the position of an international community of adoptees of color who wish to pose a critical intervention in the discourse and actions affecting the child victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti. We are domestic and international adoptees with many years of research and both personal and professional experience in adoption studies and activism. We are a community of scholars, activists, professors, artists, lawyers, social workers and health care workers who speak with the knowledge that North Americans and Europeans are lining up to adopt the “orphaned children” of the Haitian earthquake, and who feel compelled to voice our opinion about what it means to be “saved” or “rescued” through adoption.

We understand that in a time of crisis there is a tendency to want to act quickly to support those considered the most vulnerable and directly affected, including children. However, we urge caution in determining how best to help. We have arrived at a time when the licenses of adoption agencies in various countries are being reviewed for the widespread practice of misrepresenting the social histories of children. There is evidence of the production of documents stating that a child is “available for adoption” based on a legal “paper” and not literal orphaning as seen in recent cases of intercountry adoption of children from Malawi, Guatemala, South Korea and China. We bear testimony to the ways in which the intercountry adoption industry has profited from and reinforced neo-liberal structural adjustment policies, aid dependency, population control policies, unsustainable development, corruption, and child trafficking.

For more than fifty years “orphaned children” have been shipped from areas of war, natural disasters, and poverty to supposedly better lives in Europe and North America. Our adoptions from Vietnam, South Korea, Guatemala and many other countries are no different from what is happening to the children of Haiti today. Like us, these “disaster orphans” will grow into adulthood and begin to grasp the magnitude of the abuse, fraud, negligence, suffering, and deprivation of human rights involved in their displacements.

We uphold that Haitian children have a right to a family and a history that is their own and that Haitians themselves have a right to determine what happens to their own children. We resist the racist, colonialist mentality that positions the Western nuclear family as superior to other conceptions of family, and we seek to challenge those who abuse the phrase “Every child deserves a family”  to rethink how this phrase is used to justify the removal of children from Haiti for the fulfillment of their own needs and desires. Western and Northern desire for ownership of Haitian children directly contributes to the destruction of existing family and community structures in Haiti. This individualistic desire is supported by the historical and global anti-African sentiment which negates the validity of black mothers and fathers and condones the separation of black children from their families, cultures, and countries of origin.

As adoptees of color many of us have inherited a history of dubious adoptions. We are dismayed to hear that Haitian adoptions may be “fast-tracked” due to the massive destruction of buildings in Haiti that hold important records and documents. We oppose this plan and argue that the loss of records requires slowing down of the processes of adoption while important information is gathered and re-documented for these children. Removing children from Haiti without proper documentation and without proper reunification efforts is a violation of their basic human rights and leaves any family members who may be searching for them with no recourse. We insist on the absolute necessity of taking the time required to conduct a thorough search, and we support an expanded set of methods for creating these records, including recording oral histories.

We urge the international community to remember that the children in question have suffered the overwhelming trauma of the earthquake and separation from their loved ones. We have learned first-hand that adoption (domestic or intercountry) itself as a process forces children to negate their true feelings of grief, anger, pain or loss, and to assimilate to meet the desires and expectations of strangers. Immediate removal of traumatized children for adoption—including children whose adoptions were finalized prior to the quake— compounds their trauma, and denies their right to mourn and heal with the support of their community.

We affirm the spirit of Cultural Sovereignty, Sovereignty and Self-determination embodied as rights for all peoples to determine their own economic, social and cultural development included in the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Charter of the United Nations; the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The mobilization of European and North American courts, legislative bodies, and social work practices to implement forced removal through intercountry adoption is a direct challenge to cultural sovereignty. We support the legal and policy application of cultural rights such as rights to language, rights to ways of being/religion, collective existence, and a representation of Haiti’s histories and existence using Haiti’s own terms.

We offer this statement in solidarity with the people of Haiti and with all those who are seeking ways to intentionally support the long-term sustainability and self-determination of the Haitian people. As adoptees of color we bear a unique understanding of the trauma, and the sense of loss and abandonment that are part of the adoptee experience, and we demand that our voices be heard. All adoptions from Haiti must be stopped and all efforts to help children be refocused on giving aid to organizations working toward family reunification and caring for children in their own communities. We urge you to join us in supporting Haitian children’s rights to life, survival, and development within their own families and communities.

……………….

49 Comments follow on their website: http://www.adopteesofcolor.org/?p=6#respond

This one is my favorite:

“Comment by Leanne LeithJanuary 27, 2010 at 12:20 am”  

“Acts of benevolence by the color-blind privileged add yet another layer of violence to the personhood of vulnerable little people, compounding their losses. The redistribution of children of color is rooted in the marginalization of ethnic groups and the propensity to make fetish objects of their children. It is no charity to exploit a time of tragedy – or any time – to take a nation’s most valuable resource for personal gain.

It is a sad statement when those that capitalize on tragedy pat themselves on the back for their charity. The truly charitable would offer to help victims to help themselves. This feeding frenzy we are witnessing today by would-be child importers truly reveals the darkest aspects of man’s ability to rationalize the ugliest of acts.

It’s high time we respect the humanity of all peoples by preserving families and allowing them the dignity to build their own strong societies without the intervention of self-interested parties. THAT would be the action of an enlightened, advanced, civil society.”

And this one is second runner-up:

Comment by United Adoptees InternationalJanuary 26, 2010 at 9:10 am  

“…It is time that Adoptees all over the world become active and participate in the international and national adoptiondebate at all levels of society and decision making government bodies and show that the time of Infantilization and the monopoly on adoption by adopters and their politics is over.

The adoption triangle starts with the (intersts of) parents, not the adopters. It seems that everyone in the adoption debate forgot that. Including the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption.

We can change the world. Not by sitting down and wait, but to feel the power flowing within in us and everyone who is capable to understand what is really going on.”

 

Haiti tragedy, adoptions

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=125&article=67740

 

Haiti tragedy, adoptions

Stars and Stripes
Letters to the Editor, Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The New Jersey adoption community is not too surprised that an adoption agency may have skirted the laws to acquire healthy babies from Haiti (“Americans arrested on human trafficking suspicions,” article, Feb. 1). This particular organization is seemingly following (White House Chief of Staff) Rahm Emanuel’s motto, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

Agencies are no longer seeking adoptive parents but are rather seeking babies for desperate and sometimes high-paying couples.

Profit motive and secrecy will continue to plague adoption, but at least the American culture has evolved a bit. We no longer separate child from mother simply because the mother is unwed, a practice made popular by the Catholic Church. Today, it takes inhumane governments like that of China, or a natural disaster like in Haiti to grease the adoption machine and create a pool of adoptable infants. Some unethical brokers of adoption hardly care about the source of babies and some, like the New Jersey Bar Association, desperately fight to keep secrecy in adoption.

This only serves as a reminder that although the culture and practice may have changed, archaic laws from the 1940s still rule, placing biological families and their children at an unfair disadvantage.

Army Reserve Capt. Peter W. Franklin
AdopteesWithOutLiberty.com (AWOL)
Haskell, N.J.