Sunday, June 7, 2009

Babies for Beans

I haven't written or posted anything for my blog for quite awhile now, and the truth be known I needed to take a bit of a break from the sometimes all consuming thoughts, emotions and feelings about adoption loss and adoption reunion.

None the less, I have not stopped thinking about it all together. No, those thoughts are deeply embedded in my brain and my Psyche. Scarred for life you might say by the affects of adoption on my life and the need to talk about it openly and honestly to those that most need to hear the truth.

However it seems that those that could benefit from it the most don't want to hear the truth and those that fuel the adoption industry relish in the fact that the majority of the population have bought in to the fairy tale about adoption and the forever family. Most refuse to even listen to the adoptees themselves as they cry out for justice and their rights to their heritage.

I am beginning to believe that mankind has finally sunk lower than a snakes belly and that's about as low as one can get. I kid you not, I took a double take when I saw this little tidbit.

Check it out: Fair Trade Coffees Helping Orphans & Their Forever Families

SMAAC ~ The truth will set you free.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

"Invisible Veil"

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by Margaret Benshoof-Holler

She could have been any of the veiled Afghani women that have been written about in the U.S. media since September 11. But the woman I stood listening to one Saturday afternoon last fall in Sacramento, California was an American woman whose veil was invisible, whose story had been silenced and hidden.

Her child had been taken away. It was as if it had died. Except there was no funeral, no wailing wall for her to pound her fists on and cry! The woman was expected to just get on with her life and pretend that she hadn't just given her child away.

With thirty-some years of internalized emotion still causing her voice to quake when she recalled signing her name on the relinquishment papers, the fifty-six-year-old woman in Sacramento spoke of the pain and grief of losing her daughter to adoption. As I listened, I was reminded that here in the U.S. we often deal with loss by covering up our emotions. I was also reminded that the U.S. was bombing Afghanistan because we lost over 3,000 very dear people. No one, though, ever went to war for these women whose losses were in the millions of newborn lives.

The exact number of women who gave children up for adoption during the era of the 60s is not readily obtainable. The numbers jumped from “50,000 in 1944” to “175,000 in 1970,” according to one source. Another source estimated the number of women who relinquished children to adoption in the 1960s and 70s reached a peak of 250,000 a year. The stigma associated with getting pregnant out of wedlock then contributed to a need for secrecy. The need to hide these pregnancies meant complete information was not always gathered. Thus the reason for approximates rather than exact figures. Nonetheless, it is unquestionable that a large number of women gave up children for adoption during the 1960s and reached a peak some time in the 70s.

And, if even half of the women who gave their children up for adoption in the 60s had banded together their voices would surely have been heard, but they had not been taught nor encouraged to use their voices. Societal dictates, including puritanical attitudes about sex, women, and pregnancy, silenced the voices of many women for many years.

When one loses a child, mother, father, or husband to death, there is a funeral and a time of mourning. That hasn't been the case for most of the 6,000,000 birthmothers in the U.S. who have lost their children to adoption. Relinquishing her child to adoption is looked upon as a single mother's duty for getting herself into that situation to begin with rather than a deeply painful separation of mother and child. In that respect, not much has changed since the 60s. Societal attitudes towards unwed mothers consider adoption a logical consequence to out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

Guilt and shame kept unwed mothers' voices stifled during the McCarthy and post-McCarthy era of the 60s, but a small group of birthmothers began, in the 1980s, to find the children they gave up for adoption in the 60s. They began to come to terms with their loss. It is only with the advent of the Internet that more birthmothers have begun to come out of the closet. Many still only talk about what happened to them with each other in much the same way that veterans of World War II and Vietnam only talked afterwards with those who understood what they had been through. Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms effect a number of birthmothers.

When President Bush proclaimed November as National Adoption Month in 2001, he did not mention or honor the large group of American women who have lost their children to adoption. He did not present a plan of prevention for unplanned pregnancies or a way to provide free daycare to help financially-strapped mothers keep, rather than give up their babies to the adoption industry. His strong adoption stance appears to fall closely in line with one of his apparent supporters-the Edna Gladney Home in Fort Worth, Texas, which was one of the biggest contributors to the National Council for Adoption in their effort to keep birth records closed. President Bush didn't address the issue of opening birth records either. Closed birth records cut adoptees off from knowing who they are and do not protect birthmothers because the majority of them want to be found.

Even though U.S. women have progressed since the 60s in the areas of education and upward economic mobility and many single women are raising children on their own today, there is still a stigma about anything related to a woman having a baby outside of the confines of marriage. I see it in the way that stories about single mothers are reported in the media. Young mothers are made to sound like criminals if they want to keep their children.

One-hundred and forty million people in the U.S. have an adoption in their immediate families. Engrained views and practices pertaining to loss, sex, and adoption help keep many, like the birthmother in Sacramento, veiled and hidden. In this respect, the U.S. tends to fall behind every other industrialized country, most of which have stopped separating the natural mother from her child after it is born except in extreme situations.

The woman that I stood listening to in Sacramento was coerced into giving her child up for adoption in the 60s. She was then encouraged to keep the whole thing hidden. Her story stayed that way for over thirty years. It is time that we recognize and honor her motherhood.

"Invisible Veil" © copyright 2002 by Margaret Benshoof-Holler

"Burning of the Marriage Hat is a powerful book that uses the medium of fiction to explore serious social issues." --Cynthia Parkhill, Lake County Record-Bee
Complete Review

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


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How can we find true friendship in this often phony, temporary world?

Friendship involves recognition or familiarity with another's personality. Friends often share likes and dislikes, interests, pursuits, and passion. Genuine friendship involves a shared sense of caring and concern, a desire to see one another grow and develop, and a hope for each other to succeed in all aspects of life. True friendship involves action: doing something for someone else while expecting nothing in return; sharing thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or negative criticism. Friendship takes time: time to get to know each other, time to build shared memories, time to invest in each other's growth. Trust is essential to true friendship. We all need someone with whom we can share our lives, thoughts, feelings, and frustrations. We need to be able to share our deepest secrets with someone, without worrying that those secrets will end up on the Internet the next day! Failing to be trustworthy with those intimate secrets can destroy a friendship in a hurry. Truth and loyalty are key to true friendship. Without them, we often feel betrayed, left out, and lonely. In true friendship, there is no backbiting, no negative thoughts, no turning away. True friendship requires certain accountability factors. Real friends encourage one another and forgive one another where there has been an offense. Genuine friendship supports during times of struggle. Friends are dependable. In true friendship, unconditional love develops. We love our friends no matter what and we always want the best for our friends.

True Grit

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I have come to the conclusion that I can't take rejection hard or personally. It happens in life. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with me. It means the person, the job, the situation is not right for ME. Even if I want it to be right…even if I really want that lover, that friend, that job, that house, that apartment, that whatever….doesn't mean it's the right thing for me and maybe they see it clearer than I. Or maybe they don't appreciate me and I don't want that in my life anyway.

It's hard to put yourself out there. It's hard to put the power in someone else's hands. It feels like leading with your chin.

But I can overcome rejection, whether present rejection or long-ago rejection. I just need to keep the positive self-talk going, do my affirmations and know I am worth it and deserve all the good things that life has to offer.

Most of all I deserve to be surrounded by the right people and the right situations where my intrinsic goodness and high value is appreciated. I should give myself my own approval, and give others the right to accept or reject me, I can then bask in the glow of those who accept and value me.

I need to rememer to pay no attention to rejection. It doesn't matter. I will try to stay positive. Stay focused on what I want.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Agreeing to Disagree?

Disagreement is a very useful tool in life
to drive improvement and progress........

Yet disagreement is seen as an unpleasant state of affairs by most people and the media as well and therefor it is often suppressed as much as possible and as long as possible. People rather bite their tongue than to express disagreement and that leads to a lot of unexpressed disagreement that keeps building up steam under the surface.

"Agreeing to Disagree." I think Ayn Rand had it right: the lowest in society seek to enchain the best of us. To pretend that the destruction of freedom is nothing more serious than a difference of opinion is to hand the murderers the gun that will destroy you. "The end does not justify the means. No one's rights can be secured by the violation of the rights of others."

This is why we Senior Mother's are now shedding
our collective suffocating cloaks that we have been enveloped in for decades, the shroud of secrecy and lies, of shame and guilt surrounding the loss of our babies in an era where this was not only condoned but encouraged. We will not be donning our shawls and sitting this one out, rocking in our chairs idling away the hours and days. No siree! Not today, not tomorrow, and not the day after tomorrow. Today we have chosen to speak up for ourselves. This is especially important when considering that our voices are now the voices most closely involved with and affected by adoption loss. The very numbers of us are staggering and not to be kept quite any longer. We have been in the trenches for years and years now dealing with the aftermath of adoption trauma. We not only see the effects in other senior mother's eyes, but we see it in the eyes of our now adult children in our reunions with them. While there has been much adoption rhetoric throughout the history of adoption, it is inescapable to avoid the veil of secrecy, shame, confusion, disconnections, and loss associated with 'this' particular era. During 'our' time adoptions were never to be spoken of and were not meant to be revealed.

Uh oh, too late, the cat appears to be out of the bag.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

New Website

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Senior Mothers Adoption Activist Coalition, SMAAC, a grassroots organization of mothers who were forced to surrender our newborns during the Era of Mass Surrenders, post WWII until the inception of Roe v Wade, announces the launch of our new website in conjunction with the beginning of Adoption Awareness Month. SMAAC chose this month to launch our new website in an effort to focus attention on the side of adoption that is most often unrecognized and the women whose voices have been deliberately and willfully unheard.

Senior Mothers are coming together and finding strength in our shared experience. Now we are speaking out, after decades of silently bearing witness to the increase in the power and control of the Adoption Industry. Our silence was misunderstood, and exploited; it was actually the trauma and post traumatic stress of women who had been systematically abused into signing surrender documents. Taking our silence as acquiescence, the public and the government allowed the Adoption Industry to grow into a multi- billion dollar, largely unregulated industry fighting to retain its control over the fates of young women, our infants and the future of these small families in the United States.

By coming together on the Internet, Senior Mothers gained strength, courage and lost our shame. We found our voices, only to have them denounced, diminished and decried by the very industry that exploited us initially. When we spoke of our suffering we were told to "move on, get over it." We were told that we made a "choice" and when we argued that we had no options, we were told that having "premarital sex" was a choice that earned us our sorrow, while ignoring the fact that the loss of our children was not a choice. For the public to hear the voices of mothers, women who have grieved and suffered in silence for decades, is to make a lie of the very fiber of adoption and the mythology that, following a brief period of grief, the mothers go on as if it never happened. The industry is desperate to silence us again so that they can continue to reap huge profits from exploiting more and other vulnerable women.

We believe, that by not demanding recognition and acknowledgment for the criminal acts committed against us we are allowing the intolerable, inhumane treatment of former unwed mothers to remain as if tolerable and acceptable. We believe that if we do not demand this recognition we are silently perpetuating the myth that no life-long damage was caused by the taking of our newborns for the sole purpose of adoption. As human beings we, were segregated, isolated and our civil and human rights were systematically denied, including the most basic rights of a mother, our own newborns and recognition of our motherhood. We believe that these systematic, abuses are worthy of recognition, and is the cause of provable damage to self as a result.

Years, experience and understanding of our situation has brought a new sense of worth and a fighting spirit to us. The women of the EMS also now believe that to continue to remain silent about our experience allows the industry to continue to grow at the expense of the unwed mothers of today.

This month is the launch of our new website, but the mothers have already been busy. There are several projects in the planning and implementation stages. The current project, naming the Month of November, Adoption BEwareness Month, is to make the public aware of the experience of loss upon which adoption is predicated, and encourage the public to apply pressure to legislators to recognize our losses.

We have named the last day of November "Strange and Mournful Day" based on lyrics from Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion." The lyrics within the body of the song that describe the indignities and mistreatment that led to the surrender of our newborns;

Mother and Child Reunion (Words & music by Paul Simon)

No, I would not give you false hope,
On this strange and mournful day.
But the mother and child reunion
Is only a motion away,

Oh, little darling of mine, I can't for the life of me,
Remember a sadder day.
I know they say let it be,
But it just don't work out that way,
And the course of a lifetime runs,
Over and over again.

There are also various ongoing projects on which we are working. Among them are building a Wall of Shame, with the names and the positions of those who contributed to our losses. This will insure that the Mothers will no longer need to carry the burden alone. We will no longer be isolated, and shamed, but will place the burden directly where it belongs...on the shoulders of the perpetrators.

We have launched a campaign to encourage women who have lost infants to adoption, particularly during the EMS, to gather medical records, social worker case notes and copies of any paperwork that concerns them. Senior Mothers have been told repeatedly, over the years, that we were not entitled to this paperwork, such records did not exist or had been damaged, usually in a fire, flood or other natural disaster. We are now, thanks to the passage of the HIPAA Laws in the United States in 1996, finding that not only are they available, but have been used by researchers for decades.

Finally, we are also speaking out in public. We are sharing our experience online, in the newspaper, on television and radio and to groups and organizations. We wish to make our communities aware of the "other side" of adoption and the conditions and injustices that Senior Mothers endured prior to our loss. The silence of decades has ended.

SMAAC website