July 29, 2020

Adopting a New Voice for Adoption

Adopting a New Voice for Adoption

Introduction:

Adoption in Australia up until the early 70s was largely about giving a baby to a married couple that were unable to have children of their own. In current years, adoption numbers have thinned and most adoptions now occur from overseas.

The aim of what we’re trying to do is this … firstly being adopted in itself has nothing to do with children who are in abusive homes, nor getting a child out of foster care or an orphanage. It has nothing to do with whether an adopted child had a “loving adoptive family” or whether the adoptive person has “come out of the fog”, recognised their adoption within themselves or not. We are not trying to take away the need for a child to have security, permanency or love and nurturing.

What this has to do with is simply what adoption stands for in and of itself and what it does to a person. Adoption …

  • Removes original birth certificate then creates another document which more often than not, suggests that the baby “was born to” their adoptive parents
  • Removes any name they may have been given at birth
  • Removes connections to their ancestry
  • Removes connections to parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and grandparents
  • Denies access to their medical history
  • Removes their inheritance rights
  • Removes recognition of their country of birth and denies passport access
  • Removes the CHOICE from the adoptee over control of their life

Further, there is

  • Almost no recognition of the above
  • Very little support by way of services
  • Little to no follow up of the adopted child’s wellbeing
  • No government support for discharging the adoption – the adoptee must not only pay for the discharge but also fight tooth and nail for it. It is by far easier for an adoptive parent to discharge an adoption
  • Denied acknowledgement of grief
  • Denial of rights for the adopted child

Adoptees are

  • Forced to conform and comply to a life that is a lie
  • Take on strangers as their own family and assimilate
  • Replacement children
  • Expected to meet standards
  • Returned to the system

Some of the reasons adults adopt are

  • To fill a need
  • To normalise a situation
  • To traffic
  • For gratification
  • For slavery

(I have not included “to give a child a loving home” as the narrative generally goes, because there are very few children who genuinely require adoption. If you take a genuine loving adult who is wanting to help a child, there are many other ways in which to help a child, to give the child permanency and security, other than adoption)

Some unacknowledged problems and issues consist of

  • Trauma of separation
  • Lack of nurturing
  • Potentially being placed in an abusive home with no follow up. This can also lead to child trafficking and suicide
  • Stolen identity
  • Lack of direction in life
  • Inability to recognise oneself through mirroring whilst growing up
  • No validation in the world of belonging
  • Trust issues

In a nutshell, adoption STRIPS A CHILD of everything and leaves it with a life long incredible challenge (if the adult wants to take it on) of figuring out who they really are and how they fit into the world. A loving adoptive family cannot replace what has been taken from that child. Moreover, that child will grow into an adult and will probably have offspring. So, not only are those adoptees going to be the future of our society, they are also going to pass on their traumas and disconnections to future generations. That is not a world that I would like to live in.

Alternatives might be, guardianship, fostering, financially supporting the mother to keep her family together (this can be for services, bills, accommodation, food, clothing etc), finding ways to keep the child within their own family, finding ways to keep the child within their country of origin and as an absolute last resort, placing them with a stranger who has been thoroughly screened and has ongoing counselling, support and accountability for that child by way of regular social worker visits etc.

We need to hold governments to account for what adoption does. At the grass roots level, we need to be acknowledging the basic human rights that were and are removed in the adoption process and ensure we care for our children in a wholistic way in that we keep them completely intact during the process of homing them. We need to SHIFT the focus OFF the adult and FOCUS ON THE NEEDS OF THE CHILD.

Legal

What happens when a child is adopted? How does an adoptee move forward and what laws are applicable to adoptees

In the article below, “10 Reasons why…” author Angela Barra, explains why Plenary (subtractive) adoption should be abolished
10 Reasons why Plenary Adoption should be Abolished

Adoption Discharge ~ Each state in Australia has different laws but essentially as it stands, an adopted person must go through quite a gruelling and lengthy process to obtain a discharge of their adoption.

Inheritance Rights ~ Their inheritance rights are removed at the time of adoption, from their biological family to their adoptive family. This can cause many problems and pain as in many instances, although the adopters take on the child “as their own”, they also use the fact that an adopted child is not of their blood, using it against the adoptee and write them out of the will if things don’t go well. 

Support Services & Recognition

In a nutshell there are few support services for adoptees in Australia and indeed the world. There are very few adoptee specialised Counsellors and psychologists. Peer support groups are of great benefit.They can validate the adoption experience and an adoptees place in the world. Online social media support groups seems to be the biggest support. These groups have proven to be a safe haven to open up to adoptee issues that only adoptees can understand.

Places like Beyond Blue which is a redirection service specialising in those with depression, substance abuse, gay rights etc. There is no acknowledgement of adoption anywhere. 
There are very few psychologists specialising in adoption issues and nearly impossible to find them. Equally so for counsellors. There is simply very few places to go or people to turn to.
There are support groups for adopted people scattered around the place. Here in Australia there is at least one in each state but we do require more support.
Many laws prevent us from claiming who we are by way of our original legal rights. The government does not want to acknowledge this as it would create a landslide of accountability.
General support services like Lifeline here in Australia also do not have the training or understanding of adoptee issues.

The Good

There really is no such thing as a “good adoption” although some will disagree, it really isn’t about the level of love or support from adoptive parents, it really is about what adoption does. 
Another area to look at as potentially “good” is the sliding door effect. The narrative that “my life would have been better if…” There really is no “better” comparison but “different”. An extreme example is if a biological family was severely abusing the adoptee so they are removed and placed with a family that gives them love and all the things they need, but they and their future generations have been taken from and severed from their tribe without any attempt to find an alternative within their family or at the least, keep the child connected to all that they are. I have heard adoptees say that their original family was “so bad” and that they would rather have been raised with their adoptive family. That of itself is absolutely fine. It brings me back to, not the life experience, but the adoption experience and what adoption stands for. Even if an adoptee hates with every fibre of their being, their biological family, fact is, that is who they are. That is where they come from. Not every single member of their family behaves that badly across multiple generations. That adoptee and their offspring have the basic human right to be connected to all that they are. No one has the right to take from a person all that they are.

The Bad

This is the general adoption experience.

 I won’t elaborate too much on what has already been stated, but generally adoption is not considered a positive thing for a human being. Even animals are afforded a minimum stay of 6 weeks before they are shunned off into the blue yonder away from their family. I’m sure you’ve seen clips of distressed animals having been separated from their mothers and the joy of reunification.
Surrogacy is the next concern which seems to be plaguing the modern world, along with the chatter of creating humans outside the womb ><
Surrogacy and IVF using donor eggs and sperm all lead to the child being severed from who they are. Quite often you see same sex couples with an adopted child who appears well adjusted but I can absolutely assure you that underneath it all, there are deep crevices and they will come to light.

Children do not have the emotional maturity or mental capacity to articulate the traumas and problems that come with being adopted. They don’t recognise it within themselves, they don’t understand, they can’t connect the dots therefore everything must be fine. I assure you, it is not fine. 

Other concerns about not knowing who your family are etc is a thing called GSA. Genetic sexual attraction. This is not to be confused with incest. Incest is having grown up with and fully understanding of the relationship dynamic ie mother/son, father/daughter. GSA is a complete disconnection of that natural connection, usually through adoption, whereby when reunion occurs, those involved don’t recognise the other as being related yet are strongly drawn towards them in a romantic way. They did not bond in any way, yet when meet, feel drawn to bond. When reunion occurs, siblings and parents of the adoptee do not simply commence where they left off. There is a disconnect which will never change. Adoptees do not bond with their biological families once disconnected in adoption, (they also don’t bond with their adoptors, hence “not belonging anywhere or not fitting in anywhere”) even moreso if it were at birth. So when reunified they don’t see their family as they would if they had grown up with them. The other issue not knowing can have is that there is the chance that you are innocently dating your brother, sister or family member, marry, have children and not know until DNA or blood samples are taken. There have been many cases like this also.

Then there is the search. The not knowing. The what ifs (they don’t like me or I don’t like them). The possible being rejected again, having already been rejected once (even though that may not have been the case). Reunion is not all smiles, sunshine and happily ever after. Reunion actually is terrifying and opens a whole other can of worms. Even in the best scenarios, there is a disassociation and as much as one would like to feel bonded, it simply is not there because it did not happen. If there is not enough adequate support, assistance and guidance throughout the process, reunions can go horribly wrong. Even with the support, they still can go horribly wrong. Then after that hurdle comes the meshing of families which is a whole other kettle of fish to navigate. For me, I was piggy in the middle and it really was too much to take. Best and rare case scenario is that both adoptive and biological families get along fabulously and everyone is friends. Sadly, that is the exception.

The Ugly

Adoptees are four times more likely to commit suicide compared to non adopted people.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3784288/

Adoptees are at significantly increased risk of being trafficked, child slavery, exploited, domestic servitude, sexual and criminal exploitation and organ harvested.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7264998/

Rhetoric like adults or children joking about “wishing they were adopted” or threatening to put them out for adoption, is an insult on any adopted person. Once you truly understand what adoption stands for, you will then understand that making fun of adoption is completely inappropriate. Take for example this TV personality, using his status to promote his radio show which includes his child wishing she was adopted. If they truly understood the implications of adoption, this would not be happening. From what I can tell to date, this skit has been removed from air. However it is one example of so many.

Adoption Myths

There are many myths surrounding adoption. Below are a few …

Myth
“Adoptees were ‘chosen'” ~` No we weren’t. We were next off the rank

Myth
“What you don’t know (remember), won’t hurt you (affect you)” ~ Simply because a child cannot articulate trauma, does not mean it doesn’t have an effect.

Myth
“Adult adoptees are angry, bitter, ungrateful and shouldn’t be” ~ some are and some are not. We have every right to be given what adoption does to us.

Myth
“Searching is an insult to our adopters, as is changing our name” ~ We have every right to discover where we came from and learn about ourselves.

Myth
“Adoption gives a better life” & “Love is enough” ~ It takes so much more than love to keep relationships together. Adoption does not give a better life, but a different life.

Myth
“As if born to” ~ outright lie and brainwashing

Myth
“Babies do not know the difference between their own mother and a stranger” ~ more brainwashing. Simply untrue.

Myth
“Your mother gave you up out of love” ~ in almost all cases, our mothers were forced. Also, not having any choices is force.

Myth
“Adoptees are ‘gifts from god'” ~ No. we. are. not.

Myth
“That a ‘gotchya day’ is a joyful celebration” ~ For an adoptee, it is a painful seal of separation from their family.

Myth
“Reunion with birth mother will give closure” ~ It does not because the separation and re-attachment to others has been ingrained.

Myth
“Because an adoptee is critical of adoption, they must have had a bad adoption experience” ~ Simply untrue.

Intercountry

Intercountry adoptees have all the same issues as in country adoptees except they also have the added layer of identification and mirroring in the colour of their skin, their language, others expectations on looking at them and making assumptions of them and their culture.
It can be often very difficult, if not impossible to be born in a different country, relocated elsewhere in the world, then be denied a passport to be able to travel/live/work back to the country of origin. Moreover, all the documents required as proof of identity like birth certificate, is actually not the original birth certificate so essentially we need to provide manufactured (false) documents of who we really are in order to gain more of the same, so we can go to a place which is our origin!

Further, in the search to find family of origin, it creates a great level of difficulty trying to obtain connections from overseas. Often too, documents from places which housed children, were burnt down so the adoptee has no way of being able to locate their biological family.

Indigenous

Indigenous adoptees were mostly removed for reasons other than non indigenous. We call them the “Stolen Generations”.

“The exact number of children removed is unknown. Estimates of numbers have been widely disputed. The Bringing Them Home report says that “at least 100,000” children were removed from their parents. This figure was estimated by multiplying the Aboriginal population in 1994 (303,000), by the report’s maximum estimate of “one in three” Aboriginal persons separated from their families. The report stated that “between one in three and one in ten” children were separated from their families. Given differing populations over a long period of time, different policies at different times in different states (which also resulted in different definitions of target children), and incomplete records, accurate figures are difficult to establish.[citation needed] The academic Robert Manne has stated that the lower-end figure of one in 10 is more likely; he estimates that between 20,000 and 25,000 Aboriginal children were removed over six decades, based on a survey of self-identified Indigenous people by the television station ABS.

The report discovered that removed children were, in most cases, placed into institutional facilities operated by religious or charitable organisations. A significant number, particularly females, were “fostered” out. Children taken to such institutions were trained to be assimilated to Anglo-Australian culture. Policies included punishment for speaking their local Indigenous languages. The intention was to educate them for a different future and to prevent their being socialised in Aboriginal cultures. The boys were generally trained as agricultural labourers and the girls as domestic servants; these were the chief occupations of many Europeans at the time in the largely rural areas outside cities.”
Wiki Stolen Generations

Global

Many countries still operate under draconian laws. They have closed adoptions, sealed records, inability to access original birth certificates and vetos in place which prevent finding family. Other obstacles include prevention of taking action to make change.

Stats & Surveys

In mid 2020, small survey was conducted to adoptees in which we wanted to know what the main conditions are that adoptees live with as a result of their adoption. 

 

 

 

Shame is quite a significant undercurrent within an adopted person. Shame can stem from the secrecy surrounding being adopted, of not knowing vital information about oneself ie medical history, the fact that an adoptee is “purchased”, of projection from the adoptors that an adoptee was an ‘afterthought’ or that the adoptee is ‘different and not really part of the family’ or that they were ‘second best’ and many more. It is not always the adoptors who place this on to the adoptee. Shame can be placed either directly (by name calling etc) or indirectly on to an adoptee by siblings, relatives or peers. The shame that is placed upon an adopted child stores in the body and manifests in ways which erode self esteem. Guilt also goes hand in hand with shame. Again it can be projected on to the adoptee that somehow it was the adoptees fault that the adoptor couldn’t have a child of their own, guilt of making contact with the biological family which is seen as a portrayal, to name a few.

Where to find HELP & SUPPORT
MUSIC

Mary Gauthier

ALBUM

The Foundling
Grammy nominated for her album “Rifles & Rosary Beads, US singer songwriter Mary Gauthier has carved her way into the music world as a highly accomplished songwriter.
“Gauthier’s first nine albums presented extraordinary confessional songs, deeply personal, profoundly emotional pieces ranging from “I Drink,” a blunt accounting of addiction, to “March 11, 1962,” the day she was born — and relinquished to an orphanage — to “Worthy,” in which the singer finally understands she is deserving of love. Maybe that’s where the confessional song cycle ends, for she has midwifed these eleven new songs in careful collaboration with other souls whose struggle is urgent, immediate, and palpable. And none are about her.”  

The Foundling on Spotify

Sherry Hearn

SONG

She Left Herself
Sherry was adopted at 6 weeks of age – her birth mother never held her. When she was 5 years old, her adoptive mother told her that she wasn’t their daughter, although she was ‘chosen’ and she was ‘special’.  However, she was also told she could never tell anyone or talk about it ever again. So instead she buried it all and left her ‘self’ far behind. To be a good girl and also to survive.

This is where the song ‘She Left Herself’ came from and what it is all about.  The rest of her life has been a challenging journey – trying to find the girl she left behind.

Sherry trained to be a counsellor, a life coach, a teacher and a spiritual healer to not only help others who walked a similar path, but also to help herself realise she wasn’t walking it alone.

She has written and performed songs relating to her experiences and now she is proud to have this song represented in the documentary, ‘You Were Chosen’. ‘She Left Herself’ is a true recollection of her childhood experience of dealing with abandonment, secrets, loss and survival.

SONG

Coinciding with Kerri’s book, Cornerstone, Domenica performs “CORNERSTONE” with Lyrics by Kerri Small

Patti Hawn


BOOK
 

GOOD GIRLS DON’T l by Patti Hawn

Entertainment publicist Patti Hawn has worked on over thirty major motion pictures. Her film credits include some of the most acclaimed films of the last decade including winner of two Academy Awards “Ghost,” starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg; “Glory,” winner of three Academy Awards, starring Denzel Washington and Matthew Broderick; and the box office hit “Overboard” starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. Most recently she has served as the unit publicist on Garry Marshall’s “Raising Helen,” “August Rush,” and “Bride Wars,” starring Kate Hudson. GOOD GIRLS DON’T is the debut literary effort of Patti Hawn. Her book fits perfectly into the trend of real people telling their real life stories. Her book is a deeply personal first-hand account of what it was like to be trapped in an unwanted pregnancy at the close of an era where home economics took precedence over sex education. Her story starts in her childhood home in Takoma Park, Maryland, where as a teenager she became pregnant by her high school boyfriend. In the typical “solution” of the era, she is sent away to have the baby in secret and gives up her infant son on the day he is born. This is where the typical adoption story begins…and ends. Patti Hawn, who is the sister of the legendary film actress, Goldie Hawn, grew up in suburban Maryland where she attended The University of Maryland. She began her first career as a crisis intervention counselor in Silver Spring, Maryland and subsequently moved to Los Angeles where she became the director of a social service program assisting disabled people in rehabilitation services. Today Patti lives in Manhattan Beach, California with her husband and travels to India, Nepal and Thailand where she works in humanitarian efforts.

Evelyn Robinson


BOOK

ADOPTION AND LOSS l the hidden grief, by Evelyn Robinson

Evelyn Robinson is a mother who, in 1970 Scotland, was separated from her first child, Stephen, through adoption. Evelyn was unmarried when Stephen was born and was told by many people who were older and appeared to be much wiser and more experienced in life, that the best outcome for both herself and her child would be adoption. Evelyn and Stephen were reunited in Australia in 1991 and continue to enjoy a close relationship.

Professor Shurlee Swain

BOOK

THE MARKET IN BABIES l stories of australian adoption, by Marian Quartly, Shurlee Swain & Denise Cuthbert

“As the rate of adoptions in Australia falls to a historic low, and parliaments across the country are apologising to parents and babies for the pain caused by past practices, this book identifies an historical continuum between the past and the present and challenges the view that the best interests of the child can ever be protected in an environment where the market for babies is allowed to flourish.”

Kerri Small

 

BOOK

CORNERSTONE l within these walls, by Kerri Small

“As a Senator in the Australian Parliament, I chaired Senate committee inquiries into Forced Adoptions, Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants. Through these enquiries and the subsequent national apologies, Australia learnt about these appalling practices that have significant, life-long impacts on the mothers, fathers, children and families involved, as well as the intergenerational family impacts of the trauma on their own sons, daughters, partners and families.”
Rachel Siewert, Senator, Parliament of Australia

Mirah Riben


BOOK

THE STORK MARKET l America’s multi billion dollar unregulated adoption industry, by Mirah Riben

“A must read adoption book. The Stork Market by Mirah Riben, is a must read, for anyone touched by adoption. It is an informative, well-documented and fascinating expose of the many abuses permeating a multi-billion dollar, unregulated adoption industry. … Surely, a family system based on secrecy, lies and a denial of human/civil rights, cannot ultimately be, “in the best interests of the child”; and a passionate caring that the needs of the children be primary, ‘not secondary, or even worse, irrelevant to an adult’s agenda’, is evident throughout the book…. David Kirshner, PhD, Author, Adoption: Uncharted Waters.

Barbara Sumner

 

BOOK

TREE OF STRANGERS l by, Barbara Sumner 

“What does it mean to grow up adopted in New Zealand? How do you make a life when there is no history to build from?

Remarkable, moving, beautifully written, Tree of Strangers is a gripping account of a search for identity in a country governed by adoption laws that deny the rights of the adopted person.

Published by Massey University Press

Karen Wilson-Buterbaugh

BOOK

THE BABY SCOOP ERA l unwed mothers, infant adoption and forced surrender by, Karen Wilson-Buterbaugh

Karen is Executive Director of Origins International which involves countries comprised of Exiled Mothers, Adoptees and others separated by infant adoption, especially during the Baby Scoop Era (post WWII through 1972, prior to Roe v. Wade) in Australia, USA, Scotland, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland. Karen is also Executive Director of the Baby Scoop Era Research Initiative based in America.

MEDIA & PODCASTS

iCAAD TALK

PAUL SUNDERLAND

Paul Sunderland is an addictions psychotherapist, consultant and trainer with over 30 years of experience in the treatment of addictions. He is Executive Director of Outcome…
Paul Sunderland presenting at iCAAD London 2019. 

Relinquishment & Adoption: Understanding the Impact of an Early Psychological Wound
There is a high incidence of addiction and other mental health disorders amongst adoptees, with a disproportionate number presenting for treatment and recovery programmes. As early separation is a relational trauma it manifests later in life as problems in relationships. The impact of trauma on functioning is both physical and psychological.

TV INTERVIEW

Studio 10: Peter Capomolla Moore interview 

Peter’s Interview

In March 2020, Peter Capomolla Moore appeared on Studio 10 and was interviewed by Host, Sarah Harris with Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Angela Bishop and Joe Hilderbrand. The interview was sparked from an article which appeared in “That’s Life” magazine. In the interview, Peter discusses his adoption discovery at age 59.

PODCAST

The Adoptee Next Door: Angela Tucker interviews Jessenia Parmer. Did my adoption give me a “Better Life?”

The Adoptee Next Door Podcast

Angela Tucker is one of America’s most recognizable voices in transracial adoption (she’s black, her parents are white), and the subject of the documentary “Closure.” She goes beyond her experience, inviting adoptees from all backgrounds in an effort to uplift these rarely heard perspectives and shift societal perceptions about adoption.

Angela speaks with transracial adoptee; Jessenia Parmer about the need for more mental health awareness among adoptees. They both address the fear and courage it takes to challenge the mainstream positive narrative of adoption, by acknowledging stories…

BLOGS

Mindy Stern

Mindy Stern is an essayist and screenwriter in Los Angeles. Her work includes screenplays for Disney Plus, Lightworkers Media, Shaftesbury Productions, and Will Packer Productions. Her personal essays can be found on Medium and in Esparanza magazine. She loves her family, baseball, and dogs.

 

She surrendered me for adoption upon my birth. In three months, they took me from the womb to the NICU to the foster care to my adoptive parents. Gloria, my biological mother, did not know she was pregnant, she entered the emergency room for abdominal pains and exited traumatized in a way only birth mothers understand. She died at 50, one day before my birthday. I found her four years too late.

As a thankyou for your support for us, WP documentary, You Should be Grateful, is available for a limited time for free <3

Thankyou for your support!

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