follow up to NPR’s latest choice

see no evil

Besides being a big money entity, society is more accustomed to hearing about adoptions going through than they have been to listening to people’s actual experience with adoption.  From all 3 perspectives, it is not the win-win that it has been portrayed.  Parenting an adopted child has its own set of unforeseen challenges, and the adoptive parents I have met and/or whose stories I have read who have had the courage to be honest about that have my utmost respect.

There is a completely different set of challenges for those growing up adopted – and the challenges are ongoing.  I do not pretend to know what it is to walk through these challenges, but I am aware of many of the challenges.

The other party in adoption – and perhaps the not completely silenced but definitely muffled or even muted voice and/or the voice that is the least likely to be heard – is the voice of the mother who looks into and ultimately chooses, for whatever reason, to give up all of her parental rights – and quite often, whether knowingly or unknowingly, any and all chances of ever seeing her child again.  Unfortunately, she cannot know the magnitude of how devastating this choice can be until it is too late.

The voice we are starting to hear more that was hardly ever heard before is that of the father who was either tricked into signing away his parental rights – or who was not even given the chance to sign because he was listed as unknown.

The other voices in the adoption scenario are those of the deceived and the deceivers who keep the myth afloat that everybody wins, when, in fact, everybody loses to some degree or another – except for those whose livelihoods are dependent on facilitating adoptions – and we all know that a baby fresh out of the womb is preferred over those coming out of “broken homes” (which is a topic that is as wide and varying as the number of people involved, but this is another conversation altogether) or those who who have no living relations (since, after all, they have been in a few foster homes before they are adopted, usually, and, therefore can be “damaged” or at the very least have special needs).  No one likes to talk about the issues adoption creates in the lives of families – whether it is the family being “created” by adoption or the family that has been torn apart in order to make adoption possible.  Not talking about it does not mean the realities cease to exist.  It is most unpleasant to hear about and unpleasant to truly think about.  So we, as a society, generally choose to avoid the unpleasant business of hearing and/or truly thinking about it – thus the tradition carries on largely unchallenged.

So when I say NPR chose the chicken train in not allowing the truth to come out about what adoption creates in the lives of the people involved, NPR is not alone and not necessarily to blame.  They are, after all, just going with the status quo flow of the world we have created that says that the unacceptable consequences of adoption are all okay and what must be when, in fact, it is not okay what adoption has wrought in the lives of so very many – and doesn’t have to be.

We can do better!

The thing is, the doors and walls of the adoption closet cannot hold up under the weight of the bones that have been collecting for all these decades.  They will not continue to remain out of sight and out of mind for very much longer.  They are already starting to press through to come out into to the light.  NPR just missed an excellent opportunity to do what must and what will be done – with or without them – that’s all.

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NPR took the Chicken Train

On Sunday, January 12th, in light of the recent controversy that was stirred concerning a joke by Melissa Harris-Perry about the Romney family’s trans-racial adoption and her apology that followed, this interview was aired on NPR’s The Sunday Conversation: Transracial Family Gets Double Takes ‘Everywhere We Go’ – which would have been fine except for this:

NPR & Exclusion from the Transracial Adoption Experience Discourse: the Wisdom we Could Have Gleaned

Angela Tucker was contacted originally by NPR to do that segment but was contacted the very next day and told they’d chosen to go another direction, hence, the segment by Rachel Garlinghouse on being a white adoptive parent of trans-racial adoptees – who, by the way, are minors under the control of current adoption laws and practices which essentially boils down to being given no voice.  As Angela said in her article in Lost Daughters, who better to help shed light on the experience of what it’s like to grow up in a trans-racial adoption than an adult trans-racial adoptee?

NPR, obviously, decided to follow the big money trail.  Adoption is, after all a huge and powerful money-making machine.

NPR, in light of your recent decision to scrap the interview with Angela Tucker in favor of a white adoptive mother, this one’s for you:

 

A year in review

signature

I was quiet on the adoption front for years, silenced by fear of losing the thin thread of the only communication and access I had to my child.  And then what I had hoped would be a floodgate opening when my son came to the age where he would be allowed to search for me brought nothing but silence, and the silence produced ever-increasing anxiety.  After all, the adoptive parents’ obligation to write to me and tell me of his state, had run its course, and not another word came from them after his 18th birthday – which made me feel a little used and discarded, if I may be honest…and this is the first time I’ve said as much.  Not to worry, though.  I analyzed long ago that at least they didn’t skip out on their promises to keep me apprised while he was a minor child.  That would have devastated me.  The dropping off the face of the earth after he turned 18 thing just stung.  I do recognize the difference.

So in that 3-year period of no word whatsoever, all I had was his personal facebook page to peek at to know of his well-being.  I didn’t dare send a friend request, and his privacy settings let me see very little but at least enough to know he was alive – accept for the times his page would be deleted for weeks and sometimes months at a time (did I say stress?).  As the months and years passed, I started to believe that my child was one of the adoptees who would choose not to pursue learning of his origins.  And in the process of finding a way to come to terms with that, I took to expressing – finally – my true feelings about relinquishing my child as a baby 5 days out of the womb and to advocating for more humane practices in adoption as well as advocating for adoptee rights.

Then I was silenced again – in a good way.  I heard from my son.  It created a little bit of a predicament, it felt.  I have been at odds ever since on how to proceed with my advocacy and writing going forward since this blessed event.  I speak publicly whenever opportunities present themselves and hope I have at least left an impression on what it means to carry, give birth to, and relinquish a child to people one barely knows over the remainder of a lifetime.  Other than that, I advocate but perhaps a little more quietly as still I see a great need for reform in adoption.   And I will keep advocating in every way I can – and hope I do nothing to injure or alienate my own child as he is, after all, the single most important part of my life and existence.

I have a small facebook page where I post all things I come across that are adoption related.  In the interest of staying sane, I am not able to devote every day to research.  Part of my survival is finding the person I am beyond adoption and concentrating on things that person is interested in pursuing.  There are less than 40 “likes” to this facebook page, but the people who do read the content post and share on their own pages, so the word is still getting out – which is my only goal.  It doesn’t matter to me how the word gets out, only that it gets out.

With this year winding down and a new year about to emerge, I was starting to feel a little guilty about not doing as much lately, but then I looked at my facebook page, Freebairn Advocacy, and I realize I have been steadily posting a number of items each month of this year, and this is the year it all started for me.  I have not been silent…just walking a very fine line I haven’t entirely found my footing to walk steadily and with as much certainty as I hope to walk in the days to come.

To all of you who’ve been reading this blog and following on facebook, thank you for listening.  Thank you for caring about this.

And…

Happy New Year!!  May it be a year of many triumphs – no matter how small or great.

Adoptive Couple (Capobianco) vs. Baby Girl

Capobiaco Suit

Here is the motion in its entirety: Capobianco Lawsuit

I saw this today and became outraged, all over again!

Was it enough for this adoptive couple, Melanie Duncan and Matthew Capobianco, to steal a little girl, Veronica, away from her father, Dusten Brown, and steal her away from her heritage, the Cherokee Nation?  Obviously not.  I’d been hearing rumblings of a lawsuit to be brought against Dusten Brown and the Cherokee Nation since the decision was made to turn Veronica back over to the Capobiancos.

Now, it is no longer a rumble or a rumor.  It is now a court order filed in the District Court of Nowata County in the State of Oklahoma on November 1 of this year.  The first to be named as a defendant?  Their own adoptive daughter.

Who sues a 4-year-old, much less their “own” child?  Who does that???  Matthew Capobianco and Melanie Duncan, that’s who.  I don’t know how the laws in Oklahoma work, but can a minor child under the age of 14 be held financially responsible for someone else’s decision to adopt her?  And where does her share of the money come from?  There is nowhere else to look but to her future.

If, in order to file a suit against Veronica’s father, they had to stay consistent with the naming of the case in the original motion to get her back after the courts had awarded her true and natural father custody of his true and natural daughter, how does anyone with true parental instincts see the motion with their own eyes, right there in front of them, in black and white, and allow themselves to go through with suing their own daughter – if indeed that is who and what she is to them?  I question that because this motion makes me wonder: Is she family or is she property to them?

Please tell the people, Matthew Capobianco and Melanie Duncan, what are we supposed to think?  Oh, wait.  You did tell us.  It’s right there in your court document, readily available for public consumption.  You made your intentions known in a court order for any and all to see who you are and what you are about.  You named your own adoptive daughter as a defendant in a case you brought against her, her father, and her tribe.  You did that – not the media, not the rumor mill, YOU.  YOU are named as the plaintiffs.  Instead of parenting the now traumatized daughter (or have you even had time to notice that) you fought so hard to adopt and raise, this is how you choose to spend your time and resources?

Yeah,  you live in a free country, and you’re free to do as you wish, but you certainly won’t be getting my vote for the Parents of the Year award.

A freeing article on the Lost Daughters blog

This article was posted yesterday by Rebecca Hawkes on Lost Daughters:

Free-Falling Into the Baby Rage Zone: Another Adoptee Epiphany

Rebecca writes: “I am angry because they didn’t fight for me.  I am angry that they didn’t rise up and rage against the system that was tearing us apart.  I’m angry that they didn’t realize what was truly being lost until it was too late.  I am angry that they allowed themselves to be tricked into believing it would all be okay.  Because it wasn’t and it never will be.  Not entirely.”

I nod in agreement with her.  I am not her mother, but I am that mother.  I am one of those parents.  As painful as it may be for me to face that, something in me is relieved at the truth of it, relieved that a person who grew up adopted summoned the courage to speak the truth of it and bring it to light.

I nod in acknowledgment and agreement with everything she has written in this article.  The truth may hurt, but the hurt places can only have the real possibility of healing when the light is shined on it.  It only does increasingly more damage when left to fester isolated in the dark.  Thank you, Rebecca, for being brave enough to face the truth and bring it to light.  I honor your courage and your pain and your willingness to go where most everyone is afraid to let you go because it could possibly bring into question their own choices.  I don’t have to tell you it’s alright because it just is…all right!

an update – of sorts…

I know it’s been eons since I’ve written, and it’s not because I haven’t wanted to write.  I think about you, the beautiful people who’ve been so graciously taking the time to read my rants and explore ponderings on adoption with me, and I’ve yearned to reach out but have been at a loss as to where and with what to begin.  I would love to have new news for you, but I can’t really say that I do.  We have been writing, and that has been life-giving to me.

I will say this.  Just being directly in communication in some form is the only cure I’ve found for the ache and the gaping hole that had blown my heart and world apart after relinquishing.  I’d learned to live with not having that, and just when I’d decided to make peace with always having to live with it, like the brightest light that heaven could shine, that beautiful soul entered my world again.  And I’m still so grateful for it and relieved by it I still, to this day, don’t even know what to do, or to say, or to think.  I wish he could see through my eyes, even just a glimpse of what an amazing person I find him to be.  I wish I could give him an easier world to come of age in.  I wish so, so many things.  But I couldn’t wish to be any prouder or any more pleased with the person I’m finding him to be and with whom I’m starting to get to know.

What’s been on my mind of late I’ll try to talk about but may have difficulty talking about at length just now.  It’s painful.  The fact that Dusten Brown was able to issue this statement is, to me, a testament of grace: Dusten Brown, biological father of Baby Veronica, issues statement.

I didn’t write about the court proceedings between Dusten Brown and the adoptive parents over who would have the right and/or the privilege of parenting Veronica, now 4 years old, but I followed the case closely and intensely and prayed fervently for her to remain with her true father who clearly would have gone to the ends of the earth to keep being who he is – her true father – if only his rights had not been trampled and so completely violated, disregarded, and discarded.  Words cannot express the depth of the laceration it is to my soul’s sense of justice it is that his daughter was taken from him.  If I write any more beyond this, at this juncture, to say I would not be gracious to those responsible for this unconscionable (on so many levels it’s insane) set of circumstances is way beyond an understatement.  In other words, I’m very clearly not over it, and I probably won’t be over it for quite a long time.  My heart aches for Dusten and for Veronica, and my soul wants substantially more than justice right now.  What my soul is crying out for is vengeance.  However, I am kept [mostly] in check by the knowledge of Who vengeance belongs to, and it’s taking everything I can muster to keep that outcry at bay and simply go with praying for a greater good to come from all that’s gone down.

I will not forget.  I can say this with confidence because I have not forgotten Terry Schindler Shiavo and how it shook me to my very core the way her life was so cruelly and brazenly – yet “legally” – robbed from her.  It still shakes me to this day.  What happened to Dusten Brown has shaken me just as violently to the very core of my being.  I will not stop praying for justice for Veronica and for her dad.

Revision:

I can too say more because I have been deeply disturbed by more, and what has been eating at me the most is this:

I can’t help but think about what the next few days, weeks, and years hold for Veronica.  In the first hours, it’s probably like a treat: going on a trip, being showered with presents and getting all this extra attention from all these new and excited people.  But what happens when reality starts to set in?  What happens when her daddy’s not there to tuck her in, and she begins to miss him – terribly?  What happens as the days and the nights keep going by, and she begins to become aware that something’s missing, something’s gone…something that meant a great deal more than she is equipped to comprehend?  Her daddy didn’t die (physically), yet she is left now to grapple with an acute awareness that a major presence, a rock and a staple in her life, is now missing from her life – that didn’t have to be.  She’s just 4 years old!  How can she begin to understand this hole that’s been blown into her world, her heart, her soul – AGAIN?  We have only just begun to tap into the profundity of the loss that newborns experience when thrust into an environment that the soul was not prepared to be born into from the womb.  All the signals and mechanisms at work in the DNA matrix and senses have been cut off and something new, something foreign, has now been introduced.  Veronica got a second chance at knowing some of what went missing the day her mother relinquished her to her adoptive parents.  And now she has to adjust to a whole new environment and shock to her system – for yet a third time!  Kids are resilient.  They will continue to be kids.  But she is being affected, and it is all very confusing, and no amount of attempting to explain will help her make sense of it all.  How can it?  It’s very difficult to think about what’s been done to her world without thinking of the adoptive parents as perpetrators of a most insidious and heinous crime.

I will not forget about her either.  And talking about some of my concerns for her helps me to recognize that I’ve got to find a way to move past how I feel about the immediacy of the injustice and concentrate my prayers and energy where the potential to do the most good exists.

To Dusten I wish to say this: NEVER GIVE UP, and NEVER GIVE IN!  Your child is your child is your child, period, and nothing can change this rock-solid truth in fact.  To all fathers whose rights are not being considered while adoption plans are being made without your knowledge and/or consent, I wish to say this:  Please learn from what Dusten went through!  This is YOUR child!  Find out what’s really going on, even if you and your child’s mom are not together!  I speak from the perspective and experience of having made an adoption plan without the benefit of ANY KIND OF INPUT WHATSOEVER that could have helped me to better understand what it was I was really doing and what adoption could mean for me and for my child over the long haul.  Please know that YOU MATTER!!  YOUR CHILD MATTERS – and will very much matter to you likely much sooner than you might think!  Don’t keep blowing it all off only to have to find that out when it’s too late.  Women are at their most vulnerable when they are pregnant, and a lack of resources and support can exacerbate those vulnerabilities and leave her feeling so backed into a corner she sees no way other than adoption to ensure the safety and wellbeing of her child – and there are predators out there (baby brokers, but that’s not what they prefer to call themselves) all too ready and willing to find these women and entertain and pacify, and, ultimately, exploit and capitalize on those vulnerabilities.  This may sound like early-to-mid 20th century stuff, but it’s happening right here in the 21st century.  If Dusten’s case doesn’t blaringly point that out and sober you up, then you may want to consider rehab of some kind to help sober you up.

an update

I knew it had been a while since I’d written, but I just looked at the date and saw that it’s been over a month???  I’ve no idea how that happened, how time went that fast!

And…there’s a reason I’ve been quiet lately, actually.  It seems (fingers crossed) there may be a reunion in the near future…?

Thank you so much, every one of you, who’ve been supportive throughout the difficult process of getting to this point.  I can honestly say that all of the pain leading up to hearing from my son just vanished as if it never was the moment I heard from him – just like with childbirth: you immediately forget the pain and difficulty the moment you lay eyes on your child and hear his or her cry!  It’s like this big chunk of me that had been seemingly gone forever just clicked back into place.  I cannot even begin to describe the feeling, the relief!

mother grief…gotta grieve it.

Tree-of-Life

When I married my husband a little over 2 years ago, he was extremely concerned about my health.  Actually, more accurately, I could see on his face and hear in his voice he was scared that he’d married a terminally ill woman.  So was I.  I didn’t dwell on it, but it’s like I could feel some life-sucking force taking over my body.  I was suffering, like I had learned to suffer – and had suffered my whole life: In silence.  I did not seek medical attention for it, but I didn’t shy away from my doctor either.  There wasn’t enough of one specific acute symptom or set of symptoms to try and get his input into the malady.  It was just a well-being thing – or complete lack thereof – that I really wouldn’t have been able to describe to any kind of healthcare professional.  If I had sought him about it, my doctor would probably have referred me to a mental health professional for prescription management of depression and anxiety and/or whatever else could be conjured up to write prescriptions for (prescriptions for therapy included).

Now that I’m where I am, it’s become clear that’s not what was needed.  I think I’d known for some time what was needed.  My body had simply just reached a point it could no longer bear the grief I had been stifling.  I hadn’t necessarily been stifling it on purpose as I knew it wasn’t healthy that I had not been able to let myself grieve.  I just had too much going on.  The grieving I needed to do was an all-consuming, 24-hour-a-day thing that a job and other things were not compatible with.  And there was the thing that I knew all too well: It felt as though it would kill me if I really let it happen, and I knew it would go on for a long time if I ever did let the process start.  When I could finally let it out, if felt like it was killing me, but, actually, it was quite the opposite.  It was a pretty intense, good 2 years of deep, deep, exhausting, grievous, gut-wrenching, back-breaking grieving.  I think that part of what kept me from going there before, too, was not having a support system and a safe place to go through it.  My precious husband provided that safe place…HE is a safe place, the safest I’ve experienced in all of my 48 years.  Our home is a safe place.  Our house is a ghetto, foreclosed on former rental unit with 20 people living hard in it at one time with human pee in the corners, oozing dripping stuff that had to be scrubbed from the walls along with rips, tears, holes, you name it.  It was NASTY when I first moved in – and Steve had already spent countless hours scrubbing away the nastiness and repairing the disrepair before bringing me in as his wife to help…and, in spite of all that it was in its former life and all that it still lacks, it has become our home.  We’ve made it our home.  And it has sheltered me through the hardest thing imaginable.

I’m still very much going through that process of grieving – and my son is 21 now, so I had a LOT of catching up to do.  Now that I’ve been through the initial breaking forth of it and have gotten what was dammed up mostly out of my system, I have started to notice the things that I do to be and stay healthy actually contributing to a feeling of health.  I’m starting to feel vitality and life in my body again.

A recommendation: Whatever it is you have to let go of and grieve, you are your only you, and you are incalculably valuable, so give yourself permission to find your safe place, permission to pray for your safe place – whatever it is you need to let what needs to happen happen – and grieve(!) it(!) OUT!!!  It is not the purpose of the human body to be equipped to hold that stuff in.  I almost let grief kill me, and, of this I am certain: There are far better ways to die…(!!!).