Why Do I, an Adoptee, Support Mothers of Adoption Loss?

You may be wondering why I, an adoptee who writes on adoptees’ rights, continues to support Mothers of Adoption Loss. The answer is simple. When I found myself thrown into the uncharted world of adoption way back in 1974 when I was 18 years old, there was very little out there for me to turn to for help. Florence Fisher‘s organization, Adoptees Liberty Movement Association – ALMA, was only a year old. I didn’t find out about ALMA until the early winter of 1975. I paid my dues and the newsletters came in once a month. I was a college Freshman, juggling course work with emotional overload from being thrust into a chaotic reunion with my natural blood family (they found me) while desperately trying to keep my relationship with my adoptive parents. ALMA’s newsletters were my only link at that time to any rational discussion of adoption.

I began to see that the experiences of other adoptees was so much different than my own. Most adoptees were born to mothers who were not married. My mother was married. She also died when I was three months old. Most adoptees were searching. I had been found. Most adoptees wanted to obtain their sealed birth certificate. Mine was given to me – rather, thrown at me in a fit of rage by my adoptive mother just days after the initial contact from my siblings.

In the face of the answers I was given by my two families, I also faced intense anger from both families because I would not stop talking about adoption. I was put down, mocked, yelled at, ridiculed, humiliated – because each person disagreed on how I handled being found and reunited with family I had never known existed. I was not allowed to grieve, to process the facts, the emotions, anything.

I felt alone. In those days, there was no internet. No Facebook. No instant connection with other adoptees, anywhere.

Gradually, books were published. Adoptee Florence Fisher‘s memoir, The Search for Anna Fisher, published in 1973, was the first adoptee memoir I read on loan in 1975. Florence signed a copy for me when we met in 1979.

Adoptee Betty Jean Lifton‘s memoir, Twice Born: Memoirs of an Adopted Daughter, also was published in 1975. But I don’t think I learned about the book until after her second book, Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience, was first published in 1979.

It wasn’t until 1980 that I attended my first adoption conference held for one day in Philadelphia that I met Mothers of Adoption Loss. I was shocked. I did not ever know what they had gone through, so this was an eye-opening experience. I met Sandy Musser and Mirah Riben and Mary Ann Cohen. These three women changed my life forever. From their words, and tears, and rage, I learned another side of adoption: what mothers endure when they relinquish their infant to adoption. It is not a choice. Society has left them no choice.

I bought Sandy Musser‘s book, I Would Have Searched Forever, published in 1979. Sandy’s second book, What Kind of Love is This? A Story of Adoption Reconciliation was first published in 1982 and reprinted in 2013. To Prison With Love was first published in 1994 and updated. My Last ‘Love’ Letter to President Obama was published in 2016.

Perhaps the most memorable moment, for me anyway, was the day Sandy Musser spoke at the podium in front of The Reflecting Pool in Washington DC for the March on Washington in 1989. I watched her she gave this speech: This Time Must Come!

Click on this link About Sandy – Author, Activist, Public Speaker since 1976 to read about Sandy’s remarkable accomplishments as a leader in adoption reform.

My first international adoption conference was held by The American Adoption Congress in Boston, 1987. If you have never attended one of these, I highly recommend that you do. It will change your life forever. It changed my life.

In 1989, I met Mirah Riben again and bought her book, Shedding Light On…The Dark Side of Adoption, published in 1988. Mirah published The Stork Market: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry in 2007. To buy an autographed book, and to read about Mirah’s many accomplishments, including her over 200 articles published in a  variety of publications, including 100 on Huffington Post, go to her website: Mirah Riben.

Somewhere along the line, I met Carol Schaefer. I bought her book, The Other Mother, at a conference in 1992.

I met other mothers as well.

Dr. Lee Campbell founded Concerned United Birthmothers in 1976. In 2014, she published Cast Off: They called us dangerous women. So, we organized and proved them right and Stow Away: They told me to forget. And I did. Now my memory has mutiny in mind. (Stow Away – Cast Off) (Volume I) Second Edition

Lee Campbell was also on TV:

First-time National Exposure for Mothers of Adoption Loss: CUB founder, Lee Campbell, Speaks Out – Phil Donahue Show, 1979.

“The Search for Missing Parents.” From the historical archives of Concerned United Birthparents. Phil Donahue Show, 1980.

“When a Birthmother Revokes Her Consent to Adoption.” From the Historical Archives of CUB, Phl Donahue Show, 1984.

In 2010, Mary Ann Cohen, who was one of three mothers I met in 1980 at my first adoption conference, wrote this paper, A Personal History of Birthmother Activism.

Over the years, I attended adoption conferences held by activists as often as I could. There were many years that I couldn’t because of poverty.

And I continued to meet remarkable mothers of adoption loss. Jo Anne Swanson has been known as “The Button Lady” who produced adoption- activism themed buttons and sold them at conferences. She also made bumper stickers and self-published pamphlets and papers on adoption from the point of view of mothers. Like the others named here, and so many others, Jo Anne continues to be active in adoption reform. Her talent for producing graphic art (known as memes) is one of the great sources of brief reference materials for adoption reform that are passed around online. She posts them on her Facebook Page – Adoptee Civil Rights Resource Center.

Jo Anne Swanson is the manager of several websites on adoption reform:

Adoption Secrecy: The Month the Gloves Came Off. What You Need to Know About National Council For Adoption.

40 Years of Adoption Reform Memories

Maternal Banishment – Devious Collaboration – Infanticide! Starvation, Neglect, and Horrendous Acts of Outright Murder

I met Lorraine Dusky in more recent years, probably in 2005 when we lobbied in Albany for adoptees’ access to sealed birth certificates. Lorraine wrote Birthmark in 1979, and Hole in My Heart in 2015. Lorraine also co-writes a website with another mother of adoption loss, Jane Edwards: [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum

Though I haven’t met her, Lori Carengelo continues to be a very influential mother in my life. She is the author of several books and her website is a mega-gold mine for information: https://www.loricarangelo.com/Search.html

These mothers all had one thing in common. They are all mothers who experienced pregnancy and giving birth as single mothers at the time in history we now call The Baby Scoop Era. A mother of adoption loss whom I never yet, Karen Wilson-Buterbaugh, writes about this on her website: The Baby Scoop Era Research Initiative – Research and Inquiry  Into Adoption Practice, 1945 – 1972

I felt such compassion for these mothers, and for all mothers who were coerced into, or forced into, giving up their babies at birth.

This was not what happened to my mother. My father gave me up after her death. These mothers were the closest I would come to having any connection to my own mother, and having any understanding about what my father went through. That’s odd, I know, considering these mothers’ experiences were different. Still, I clung to their words. I talked with my father about his feelings of giving me up. His experience as a married father of five children and as the grieving husband of a wife who had died of cancer, could not ever be the same as what these mothers had gone through. I have yet to meet another father, or mother, who gave away his or her newborn after the death of a spouse.

Conversely, in all these years of being in reunion, of being in the adoption reform movement, I have never met another orphan was given away due to a parent’s death.

In all of these 44 years as an awakened adoptee, I have realized the importance of embracing the huge losses that all of us have survived: adoptees and our parent of adoption loss.

I honor and embrace all mothers of loss in adoption. I feel it is what adoptees ought to do. We owe to each other the respect to understand how we each came to be enlightened in this horrific unnatural separation we call adoption.

And this brings me to one last message. There is an undercurrent today of resentful adoptees who don’t want to read books written by other adoptees or by mothers of adoption loss. I don’t understand this. In fact, it hurts me when I read on Facebook threads that people don’t appreciate the time and effort and personal integrity of someone who writes a memoir or an expose on adoption. There can never be enough books out there. It takes deep thought to accomplish the painstaking commitment of writing a book. It’s not about making money. It’s about the message. Readers read an author’s words hopefully to learn, to reflect, to delve deep into one’s own self to understanding.

And that is lacking in today’s younger adoptees  and younger mothers of adoption loss. My god, if it weren’t for the pioneers of the Movement, where would you all be?

I did not write about all of the pioneers, only some of them. And a few are already deceased.

I am internally grateful for each and every one of the Mothers, and Adoptees, who have gone before me.

I would lay down my life for these women.

 

 

Author Carol Schaefer Remembers the Publisher of Her Memoir “The Other Mother”

Carol Schaefer’s words:

Heartbroken over the sudden passing of Juris Jurjevics. He and Laura Hruska took a huge chance and published The Other Mother in 1991, having no idea then how many lives would be changed for the better from their decision. I met them both for the first time just before publication. Juris joined Laura and me for lunch and the first thing he said was, “You know, Carol, during one of your book signings, a nun with a walker is going to come out of the shadows.” He was so darn funny … and kind and brilliant. Juris also edited BJ Lifton’s book Lost and Found, when he was at Dial Press. So, he was a true friend to us all. It was my great fortune to work with two of the most remarkable people – both one of a kind.

Here is the write-up on SoHo Press’ website:

Remembering Juris Jurjevics

November 9, 2018

By: Bronwen Hruska

Bronwen Hruska is the Publisher of Soho Press, and the author of ACCELERATED.

 

Here’s Another Take on Pro-Life Anti-Abortion Pro-Adoption View

This is a blog post by Claudia from 2013, but it is still very relevant today – even more so because Pro-Life people seem to think that “saving a baby’s life” means adopting that baby out automatically. It doesn’t.

Adoption is NOT an Alternative to Abortion – For One Last Time – One Pregnancy; Two Different Decisions

Here are some quotes from this blog post:

 The whole idea of abortion does not belong in the adoption conversation. Let me repeat that; it is a separate conversation, a separate debate.

and

She is already, literally , bodily committed to having this baby, so maybe she thinks “adoption” because she is scared and wants to check adoption out. Unfortunately, once she contacts an adoption agency the chances that she will find emotional support to parent will disappear like a poof of smoke. Often she will then be bombarded with pro-adoption rhetoric that starts telling her, however subtle, that she is not worthy of being a mother, not good enough and that if she loves her baby enough, she will want her baby to have “better”. In essence, the MOTHER becomes the perceived threat to the child’s well being.

As I have said many times before, adoption presents itself as having many answers that face a woman with an unplanned pregnancy. They have carefully honed their marketing message and have it down pat. It’s just full of holes, but too many mother realize that when it is too late.

and

….adoption is NOT a reproductive choice; it s a PARENTING choice. A woman has already made the choice to reproduce. She is already a mother. She has had the baby. She is decide NOT to parent her child. THAT is adoption.

Please follow the above link to read the entire article.

From Adoptee Ferera Swan: On Adoptee Psychological and Physiological Trauma Caused by Adoption Separation

Quoting my new friend, Ferera Swan:

When discussing the fact that neurons are not only found in the brain but also the heart as well as every organ, the question of why so many adoptees actually suffer from ‘unexplained, random’ ailments and illnesses must be explored. Four different medical doctors and five therapists later, I had no answers for my personal experience until the trauma of relinquishment was delved into. Many don’t realize the magnitude of affects the removal of an infant from its mother has on an adoptee – and birth mother – for a lifetime not just psychologically, but physiologically.
Stay curious.

#naam18 #neuropeptide #trauma #heartintelligence #emotionalintelligence #adoptee #adoption #adoptionstory #reunionstory #universalstory #ptsd #grief #fereraswan

Ferea Swan 2018

People Don’t Believe that Adoption is Baby-Selling? Here’s Some Proof

Here is just one story of a baby-selling ring.

Child trafficking is real. It’s not isolated. Even normal adoption agencies are child trafficking agencies. Adoption workers make their money off of the buying of the children of the poor. It’s supply and demand. The rich buy the children of the poor. The poor don’t make the money – the agencies do. And the babies or older children are the products.

 

2018 NAAM Adoptees’ Poll – Can you Hear Us Now? By Adoptees Connect

⚡️ National Adoption Awareness Month⚡️

On behalf of Adoptees Connect we asked a series of questions via How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? taking advantage of the poll feature. Our campaign is called “CAN YOU HEAR US NOW” We’ve encourage adoptees to participate so we could share the results for #NAAM18

Thousands of Adoptees have participated in these polls, and our hope is these questions validate the experiences of so many adoptees who’ve always felt isolated and alone regarding their adoption journeys. They are also to help raise awareness on how adoptees feel regarding different topics that might have a direct impact on us in multiple ways.

For those who don’t agree or can’t relate to these polls, or results please know while you are entitled to your opinions, our main focus is reaching the adoptees who are struggling with abandonment, rejection, grief, loss and all the other complexities many adoptees face today. If you are one of the adoptees who can’t relate, great but please allow the space for those who have different journeys than you do.

Experiencing connections over the years with Adoptees who are hurting and hurting deeply, it’s obvious these adoptees have come across my path because I’ve opened my life up to receiving ALL ADOPTEE STORIES, not just the ones that are happy, positive and well adjusted with the adoptees experience which are the stories everyone wants to hear. Adoptees are dying out here, being heard is life or death for many of us.

Let me challenge you to the fact that there is another side of adoption and I ask you consider opening your heart to learning what you might have never known before. Once we learn and know something, we can’t unlearn and unknow it. I know there is another side to adoption because I’ve been dedicating my life to adoptee advocacy for many years and I’ve invested in building hundreds of real relationships with Adoptees all over the world.

All we’re asking for #NAAM18 is that you have the willingness to listen and learn from adoptees and understand not all adoptees share the same experiences. Our mission is reaching the hurting and broken adoptees, who have felt helpless regarding their journeys. Let’s consider having compassion for them, while gaining the willingness to understand different adoptee perspectives and viewpoints.

Every poll and every poll vote matters. Each of them is making a difference. Everyone that shares this is making a difference. Please consider sharing these poll results to help us raise awareness on the adoptee perspectives.

Below are some adoption/adoptee resources for all.

www.adopteesconnect.com
www.howdoesitfeeltobeadopted.com
www.adopteeinrecovery.com
www.adopteeson.com
www.dearadoption.com
www.iamadopted.net
https://adoptionsurveysblog.wordpress.com/

We’re focused on raising Adoptee Voices. Help me raise Adoptee Voices by sharing this information and participating in helpful dialogue of discussions should arise with those who have the willingness to listen and learn from adoptees. Pamela Karanova 💝

#NAAM18 #naam #adoptee #adoption #adopted #justlisten #adopteevoices

Can You Hear US Now 2018

Anti-Abortion-Pro-Adoption Woman and Her Adoption ‘Splaining to An Adoptee

To unwind from the stresses of life, I enjoy live music whenever I can. On Thursday Nov 1, I arrived a bit late for a performance by an Irish rock band that I know. Then, on Friday Nov 2, I attended a show by a local boy who made it “kinda-big,” as he would say.

Now, I made my way through the front door, paid for my ticket, and walked by people sitting at the bar to find a seat. A woman called out to me saying that she recognized me from the previous night. “If the violin player had a sister, it would be you! You look just like her!” she said.

At first, I took that as a compliment. I don’t think I look like the young woman who plays the violin, but, okay, I’ll accept that perhaps I do! Thank you! Must be the Irish in me!

But that compliment also stung. I’m adopted. I met my natural family already. No more surprises, please.

As this woman and I talked, it was light, fun, and filled in some blanks for me about the table full of people at the previous night’s show.

As it always happens, conversation led to, “And what do you do?”

Well, I answered that I’m a writer.

“Oh,” the woman said. “And what do you write?”

“I write about adoption. I’m adopted.”

The woman immediately drew conclusions. “Well, you should be grateful your mother didn’t have an abortion.”

I cringed. This correlation, again, by someone who knows nothing of the topic. It was obvious she wanted to tell me how to think and how to feel.

I stopped her dead in her tracks.  “My mother died. And I’m not grateful.”

The woman looked stunned. “She did? When?”

“When I was three months old,” I said. “My mother was dying from cancer while pregnant with me.”

“Well, then. She could have had an abortion to save her life! She didn’t! And you are here!” This woman was so confident in her answer, she was beaming with delight.

Now my blood boiled. “Abortion was not even discussed. My parents were married. You seem to know a lot about my mother that I don’t know!”

I fumbled in my wallet and gave her my card – my business card that not only advertises my memoir, but also explains that my mother died and her death led to my adoption. My card also addresses identity theft inherent in adoption.

“Here,” I said. “Read this when you get home. By the way, adoption is baby-trafficking, baby-selling. I don’t think you want to keep going on the topic of adoption or abortion.”

The woman threw her head back in disbelief. She didn’t say it, but the words were written all over her face, “What? How could you possible think that adoption is child trafficking?”

“Just read my card when you get home. There’s much to adoption that you don’t understand or even know about.”

I moved away from the bar and took a seat to be nearer the stage.

I love it when people who know nothing about adoption explain their misconceptions to an experienced adoptee.

And please, don’t ever compare me to an abortion. You don’t know the circumstances of my mother’s pregnancy, my mother’s illness, or my birth. I do. I met my father in 1974. He told me everything.

Stop Adoption ‘Splaining to Adoptees. We are the experts, not you.

Adoption is Not an alternative to Abortion. We are not grateful to be alive because adoption took us away from our families. Adoption took away my birth certificate and gave me a fake one.

I’d like to abort anyone who feels the need for Adoption ‘Splaining to me. Ask questions. That’s how you learn.

 

#AdoptionSplaining

#Ignorance

#AbortionVSAdoption

#NAAM2018

#NationalAdopteeAwarenessMonth2018

Book Signing at the Buffalo History Museum with 69 Local Western New York Authors

I am happy to announce a local Buffalo, New York author event!

The Buffalo History Museum will be hosting it’s Local Author Book signing. See below for details.

This will be the third year I will be attending with my memoir for sale: Forbidden Family: An Adopted Woman’s Struggle for Identity.

This is an honor and a privilege! I hope to see you there!

Local Author Book Signing

Date: 11/24/2018 12:00 PM – 11/24/2018 2:00 PM

Address: 1 Museum Court, Buffalo, NY

Phone: 7168739644

Description: An annual favorite! Meet and greet local authors. Great gift ideas for holiday shopping. More than 65 local authors will be on hand to meet and greet readers and sign purchased books. The wide range of publications – including cookbooks, neighborhood, regional and military history, novels and coffee table books – makes this a perfect opportunity to shop for a variety of tastes. Museum admission is free during this event.

Participating Local Authors: 
Christina Abt, Frederick & Cynthia Adcock, Larry Beahan, Donald Blank, Tamyara Brown, Brigette Callahan and Kristin Warham, Christopher Carlin, Steve Cichon, David Coleman, Lorna MacDonald Czarnota, Doreen DeBoth, Gretchen and Dennis Duling, Rick Falkowski, William Faught, Marilyn Foote, Jennifer Gold, Mark Goldman, Matt Gryta, Gerald Halligan, Heather Lynn Harris, Michael Hawley, Rosanne Higgins, David Horning, Patricia Hull, John Koerner, Cathy Lang, Elizabeth Leader, Elizabeth Licata, Alice Loweecey, Thanya Mckinnon, Nancy Mingus, Graham Millar, Melanie Morse and Thomas McDade, H. Vincent Moses, Christy Nicholas, Renee Oubre, Greg Parkes, Terez Peipins, John Percy, Mark Peszko, Lori Porter, Roger Rainville, Paul Redding, Mike Vogel, Lissa Marie Redmond, Mariana Rhoades, Jim Santella, Jeff Schober, Mariam Shannon, Timothy Shannon, Jan Sheridan, Doris Sippel, Bob and Terri Skurzewski, Shannon Spruill, Dan Starr, Shane Stephenson, Greg Sterlace, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Max Warfield, Kristin Warham, Karen Wielinski, Mercedes Wilson, Julianna Fiddler Woite, Theresa Wyatt.

©2018 THE BUFFALO & ERIE CO. HISTORICAL SOCIETY

CBS 60 Minutes on Buffalo WhistleBlower Who Released Documents Against Buffalo Catholic Bishop Malone’s Cover-Up of Priest Sex Abuse

Well, my home city of Buffalo, New York has, once again, made national news in a dark way. This really is world-wide news. And one woman, Siobhan O’Connor, is the whistle-blower we can all thank for her courageous decision to contact a TV News reporter.

Here is the printed article that tells the story:

Whistleblower says bishop knew of sexual abuse allegations, but did nothing

For the first time on television, the former executive assistant to Buffalo’s Bishop Richard Malone explains why she decided to speak out against the bishop for not taking action against priests accused of sexual abuse

Click on the above link to also view the CBS 60 Minutes video interview.

What follows here is a behind the scenes look. First the printed article, and the video, both at this link:

Why Bishop Malone’s assistant became a whistleblower

How did a faithful assistant become a moral objector? For Siobhan O’Connor, the process was gradual — but soon became imperative

Many of you may wonder why I am putting this on my blog about adoption. The answers are because two priests (one on the first list of 42 priests released in March 2018, and the other on a list of 4 priests revealed in June) were influential during my grade school and high school years. Not only that, but I worry about my classmates, my schoolmates, who were victims. I was not a victim, but I saw violence perpetrated by Monsignor when I was 12 years old. That incident told me there was something radically wrong with that man.

Moreover, I was a child when Monsignor reigned with terror from 1964 to 1970. He was still there when I was in high school. And then, Fr. Dan came in. Even though I was not a victim, I was there, in that grade school, in that church, and I was there in high school when we met for Catholic Youth Organization. I was there when sexual predators molested my friends.

Twenty years before Monsignor was assigned to my church, he was a priest at a church in Buffalo where my natural mother attended both the church and high school.  Monsignor signed my mother’s high school diploma. Twenty years later, he signed my 8th grade diploma. There is no way for me to know if he molested my mother. I can’t ask her; she’s dead. From all that I know now, Monsignor was not after girls and women. He was after boys. Still, it is hard for me, an adoptee, to go through my trauma-filled life, my reunion with my natural father and other blood relatives, grieve the loss of my mother by her untimely death when I was an infant, settle with that, and now look back in horror.

Did Monsignor touch my mother?

You may be wondering what I mean by “what I know now”. Well, since June, I’ve been in daily contact with a schoolmate whom I haven’t seen in 48 years, when I graduated from 8th grade at age 14. He wrote to me via my email contact form at this website. We met for the first time as kids in 1964. Think about that. We were young children in 1964.

About one month ago, by an unusual occurrence, I heard the name of a friend of mine from 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. I called him and asked what he knew. His answers were shocking.

I cannot tell anything else here. I am protecting these men’s privacy. We are dealing with this as best we can.

My first blog post about this topic is not only being read in Buffalo and surrounding areas, but all across this nation, and the world. My website tracker tells me this.

I stand with my classmates and schoolmates in solidarity. And I stand with Siobhan O’Connor, and all whistle-blowers, who hold up truth to a higher power that is greater than the Catholic church.