Monday, November 24, 2008

National Adoption BEwareness Month.

National Adoption BEwareness Month.

Remember the families needlessly separated, the mothers who longed to keep babies they loved and wanted, and the adoptees who were cast assunder by an industry that sold them for the highest bidder. My prayers are with all of you.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Birthmothers™ trademarked = you can't use it ... ?

For something to do in your free time, dig around the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, and take a boo through their database. Do you know what a trademark is? By registering a trademark, a company claims (and obtains) the exclusive legal right to use that word or phrase. A trademark is a brand name.

What is a trademark? By the USPTO FAQ, "Trademarks include any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others, and "to indicate the source of the goods."

Why is this relevant?
Because if you do a search on the USPTO trademark database, you will find that the term "birthmother" is the trademark of Birthmother Ministries, a group that focuses on convincing mothers to surrender babies for adoption. They befriend vulnerable mothers, steer them towards surrendering, and link them up with baby brokers who can then lovingly harvest them. Yes, folks, this means that they legally own that word. Interesting that, according to the definition of what a trademark is, it distinguishes indicates the source of the goods. Gee, the source of the goods -- all those little babies being brokered for adoption -- are the good ol', happily-surrendering, splayed-on-their-backs birthmothers, eh? Or, should we say, birthmothers™.

Interesting. You too can be a brand name owned by that company, a "source" of "goods." And not only that, but the very name does not belong to you, but to a company that "lovingly" separates mothers from their children. Mothers of adoption loss, this is just one more reason to question whether you really want to be labeled by this term. Never mind that, according to the letter of the law, technically you cannot use this term without their permission.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Adoption: Is surrendering a baby an act of violence?

Just wanted to drop in and let you know i have not forgotten about you, friends and readers. Life has just been very busy lately all around.

But I wanted to share some thoughts with you. I have been corresponding lately with some wonderful people who do research on trauma and violence, especially violence (physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual) against mothers and children.

And it struck me, of course we all know that "disembabyment" (using coercion to make a mother surrender her baby for adoption) is an act of violence; HOWEVER, is the surrender ("placing") of a baby for adoption also an act of violence, perpetrated on the child?

The fact that someone is coerced to perform a violent act, or is an innocent victim of the same act, does not make it any less violent for the other victim involved: the child who is ripped away from family, heritage, blood kin, family history, and the nurturing maternal presence he/she has bonded with for nine months and knows of no other.

I have met many adoptees who have very justified feelings of anger, rejection, and betrayal. But what if it is not just anger and hurt from being rejected: What if there is also a very justified feeling of having been the victim of violence? What if because there are no words for this crime, we all have a hard time expressing the emotions resulting from it? Or recognizing it as a crime. I.e., if the mother voluntarily surrenders her baby, it is an act of violence against her baby. If she is coerced into doing it, then she was forced to commit an act of violence and as such was a victim as well.

What if this is why most of society shuns women who have surrendered their babies? What if this is why many mothers who have surrendered feel guilt and shame? Because they have actually committed "a crime with no name." A crime that became socially sanctioned when infant adoption was legally invented ~150 yrs ago, but even now which makes many people feel uncomfortable. A crime now promoted with carefully-researched advertising campaigns geared at impressionable young mothers who want to "do the right thing." A crime that is no longer considered a crime as it is now "legalized abandonment," but about which all humans have an instinctive feeling is still just as violent. Is this why many people's first response to a natural mother is, "I could never give away my child!"

Not violent? Let your imagination picture a 4 or 5 yr old being suddenly and permanently pulled from their mothers arms ... if i were a young child it would certainly feel violent to me. The only difference? A 4 to 5 year old is verbal and has words for their loss, their pain, their trauma. Love her or hate her, this is what Nancy Verrier says:

" While adoptive parents may refer to the child as "chosen" and to themselves as the "real" parents, the child has had an experience of another mother to whom he was once attached and from whom he is now separated which he can never completely ignore. The words we use to describe that separation or the cognitive reasons we give for it make no difference to the feeling sense of the child. As one adoptee told me, "Being wanted by my adoptive parents didn't compare to being unwanted by my [mother]." Whether we refer to this separation as surrendering or relinquishment, the child experiences it as abandonment."

If the act of surrender, or of being taken, is a violent act against a helpless newborn, then how about a billboard campaign about "Giving away your baby is an act of violence. If you really loved your baby, you would keep your baby. Have a heart!" Tell it like it truly is.

Maybe it would counter the latest nauseating NCFA-promoted "Adoption is being a good mother" and "Adoption is a loving option" billboard and TV ad crap.

If you are an adoptee reading this: What do you think? What do you feel about it? Do you feel that it was an act of violence you experienced? (Comments enabled for this post)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Not a Great Loss (HUMOR)

President Bush was visiting a primary school and he visited one of the classes. They were in the middle of a discussion related to words and their meanings. The teacher asked the President if he would like to lead the discussion on the word "tragedy".

So the illustrious leader asked the class for an example of a "tragedy".

One little boy stood up and offered: "If my best friend, who lives on a farm, is playing in the field and a tractor runs over him and ills him, that would be a tragedy.

"No," said Bush, "that would be an accident." A little girl raised her hand: "If a school bus carrying 50 children drove over a cliff, killing everyone inside, that would be a tragedy."

"I'm afraid not," explained the president. "That's what we would call great loss."

The room went silent. No other children volunteered. Bush searched the room. "Isn't there someone here who can give me an example of a tragedy?"

Finally at the back of the room a little Johnny boy raised his hand...In a quiet voice he said: "If Air Force One carrying you and Mrs.
Bush was struck by a "friendly fire" missile and blown to smithereens, that would be a tragedy."

"Fantastic!" exclaimed Bush. "That's right. And can you tell me why that would be tragedy?"

"Well," says the boy, "It has to be a tragedy, because it certainly wouldn't be a great loss and it probably wouldn't be a fucking accident either".

Thursday, October 11, 2007

If you call yourself a "birthmother" ...

... you are stating that you are not a mother.

... you are stating that you have no connection, no love, no bond with your lost child.

... you are stating that your worth in your child's life is as nothing other than a convenient set of reproductive organs, not as a person or a human being.

... you are agreeing with the people who told you that you are not fit to be a mother because (fill in the blank) you were young, unmarried, poor, a sinner, irresponsible for getting pregnant in the first place ... or whatever the coercion of the time was.

... you are in effect calling yourself an incubator.

But worst of all, you are stating you are no longer a mother as your role ended with birth.

The term "birth mother" was created and defined by social workers to be part of "Respectful Adoption Language" which, in contrast, defines the only "Mothers and Fathers" of our children to be those who adopted. It is only respectful to those who have adopted, and shows you no respect what-so-ever.

You deserve much more than this. We may have been separated from our children, though surrender or "placement", but we are still their mothers. And, being mothers, we are not "birth mothers," because a "birthmother" is defined as being a non-mother.

Think of it this way, in other (non-adoption) circumstances, one still says "His mother died when he was a baby," or "His mother divorced his father when he was a baby, and he has a stepmother." NOT "His birth mother died when he was a baby." In the "Real World," outside of the surreal and artificial landscape of "Adoption Land," there is no such thing as a FORMER mother!

That is why many natural mothers, who still love our children and feel that strong connection with them, reject the term "birthmother." We know the bond of motherhood, which even lasts despite years and decades of separation. We do not feel that it is necessary to be denigrated in dehumanized in order to "respect" another social group.

But no matter how difficult society makes the lives of single mothers who refuse to relinquish their children, those women who gave into the pressures suffer in a way the others will (mercifully) never know. For the saddest and most horrifying aspect of adoption is the amount of emotional damage inflicted upon the natural mother. To call her the 'birth mother' instead of the 'natural mother' allows her only the physical birth and denies her those feelings she wasn't supposed to have. -- Death by Adoption, Joss Shawyer, Cicada Press (1979), p. 62

The term "birth mother" as thus applied to mothers of adoption loss is -- in effect -- a blatant lie.

Friday, September 28, 2007

"Family of Origin" -- Some terminology slight-of-hand

What is a "family of origin"? Well, if you didn't know any better, and read the forums at the website "Soul of Adoption" or the Evan B. Donaldson-sponsored "Ethical Adoption Conference" (anyone else think that this is an oxymoron?) webpage, you might think it referred to natural families (i.e. the natural mothers, fathers, and siblings of children separated from them by adoption).

I first encountered the term misused at "Soul of Adoption." Surprised the heck out of me. Since when was the natural family considered to be the family of origin for an adoptee, unless said adoptee had only been adopted as an adult?

A "Family of Origin" is a term with a distinct meaning and purpose. In psychotherapy (especially in what is known as "Family Systems Theory" or just "Systems Theory," i.e. counseling theory and practice expanded beyond the individual to examine that individual's part of a larger "system" of people in their lives), your "Family of Origin" is the family you grew up in. This interactive and ongoing system of people -- and hence communication, behavior, relationships, and especially roles in the family -- plays a large part in creating the person you have become as an adult. A huge part.

That is the purpose of the term "Family of Origin". To define a specific dynamic, interactive, and circumscribed network that a client belongs to and functions as part of, which not only affects them but which they also affect in return. You need the term, the concept, in order to find and identify Family of Origin issues that might be affecting an adult in their current lives. It is very often used in marriage counseling, career counseling, family therapy, and in general psychotherapy. Genograms are often added as well, to plot out relationships and areas of conflict and enmeshment.

Important Family of Origin constructs that are analyzed and explored in therapy include differentiation of self, triangulation, fusion, emotional cut-off, family projection process, object relations, life-cycle dynamics, etc. This is just a small part of it -- family therapy literature includes the work of Bowen, McGoldrick, Carter, the Milan Group, and many others.

"Bowen family systems theory is a theory of human behavior that views the family as an emotional unit and uses systems thinking to describe the complex interactions in the unit. It is the nature of a family that its members are intensely connected emotionally." -- From "Bowen Theory".

Unfortunately, once again it appears that a term was chosen and externally applied onto natural families for the sole reason that it would not offend people who have adopted. Once again, our rights, our dignity -- our worth and respect -- are ignored in order to please those whose consumer demand for our infants was considered more socially acceptable than our own desire and need and love for our newborns. And this time, it is with a term that was unapologetically lifted from therapeutic practice. And the problem is that it very much looks like whatever smarty-pants decided to use the term "Family of Origin" to refer to natural families had NO idea what the term means!

Just like if a lay-person decided to take a medical term -- let's say, pancreas -- and apply it to a tibia, it would not make sense. Doctors would say, "Listen, you have that wrong! A pancreas is an internal organ, and a tibia is your shin bone!" Thus, family therapists could similarly point out that a technical term, "Family of Origin" is being directly misapplied to refer to a totally different concept. And unfortunately, it makes everyone affected by adoption who uses it, look ignorant of the technical meaning of the term.

If you were adopted as an infant or toddler, your Family of Origin is your adoptive family. What was your natural family? Certainly not your family of origin unless their played distinct and ongoing daily interactive roles in your life in a family system.

And, let's say, an adoptee went to a counselor, marriage therapist, psychologist, or what-not for help. When the professional asks them about their family of origin, they sure aren't referring to the natural family! So, once more, we're left without a term that we have been able to choose and apply to ourselves, as any other group in society is permitted to, without worrying about the frail and fragile egos of other social groups (brokers and their customers) that wielded power over us (in this case, the power to have taken our children and keep them from us).

If you are going to create a new term, don't steal an existing one from a reputable profession. A tibia is not a pancreas.

Murray Bowen would be rolling in his grave.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On a related note, if you read here, you would think that EBD has actually decided to use a term of respect for natural parents and natural families.

But two things: (1) they instead have substituted the term "families of origin" (see above for my comment on this), and also (2) I still count half a dozen uses of the b-word on their conference website, including the preposterous term 'birth child'. Not only is this a non sequitur as a child not give birth, but this term essentially reduces adoptees to being "birth products." If you are a natural mother, this term separates you from your own child. As the word "birth mother" is a term that intentionally defines us as no longer being mothers past the natal event, the implication of the term "birth child" it is not (no longer) your child you gave birth to (as you are not their mother, they cannot be your child) -- thus in terms of the natural family, are nothing more than a birth product that was expelled along with the placenta, blood, and amniotic fluid. That is what 'birth child' implies. Just as putrid as word as "birth mother" (i.e. incubator).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

BTW, about that EBD conference, i see that several very "aware and awake" (i.e not brainwashed, not in denial) natural mothers will be attending it, including Claud. so, maybe it is not a lost cause. I don't hold out much hope that the brokers and adopters will listen to these natural mothers though. They haven't so far listened to any of us. ("But adoption is soo different, so wonderful these days! and you CHOSE to give your baby a better life!" ... puke)