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Monday, May 2, 2011

Guest Blog: Adoption Reality by Celeste Billhartz

Adoption Reality by Celeste Billhartz  on Monday, May 2, 2011 ©2007 and ©2011
Celeste Billhartz
A few months ago I got a photograph from a mother who visited with her daughter, in a hospital room. In the photo she is showing her the beautiful little christening gown she had saved, all these 40-some years, to show her daughter that she never wanted to "give her up" for adoption. The daughter blinked, "Yes" in acknowledgment ... her body frozen by ALS/Lou Gehrig's  disease. My friend's other daughter took the photo and another daughter stood,  nearby. They had come to say, Goodbye. Not in the photo, but standing "guard" in the room, was the adoptive mother, who would not allow them a precious few moments of privacy. Four months later, my friend's daughter died. At the funeral service none of the adoptive family, and none of their eulogies, acknowledged this natural family, sitting there, grieving ... and not one person offered condolences on their loss.
The lies in adoption are many. We all tell them, every day. It's all we know, all we have been told to say, all that is allowed. We pretend our sisters, brothers, cousins are, really, ours; they are not. We pretend we have traits inherent in our adoptive families; they are not our traits.
And, all our lives, we protect our adoptive families from the truth: We have our own natural families, our own sisters, brothers, cousins ... our own trails of traits, somewhere, reaching back to the ancients in our souls. And, our natural mothers ... we wonder where are they, who they are, why did
they "give" us away?? Not having answers, not "awake" to the reality of adoption coercion, many of us pretend. We believe they didn't want us or wanted something else more -- school, a job, etc.
And, so, we make new lives among the strangers -- not of our skin, not of our  hearts. We doze; we pretend. All our adoptive lives, we pretend. And, because we believe we are lucky to have been adopted/wanted, we protect ourselves with happy faces and words of gratitude.
Eventually, we are old enough to be more curious than content, so we ask about our origins. The good strangers -- and there are many -- tell us what they know, show us the original papers with the original names we must see, offer any help we may need to find our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles. How odd; we are strangers to our kin and we love our strangers.
Still, we must reunite. First, for our mothers, and then for ourselves. We both are owed nothing less.
Unfortunately, some adoptive mothers refuse to help adoptees reunite with their natural families and refuse to be gracious, helpful and respectful to natural mothers.
The adoption world has convinced adoptive mothers -- and most civilians -- that Amoms are the saviours of millions of babies/toddlers whose own mothers/families couldn't or wouldn't care for them as well as Amoms can and that natural mothers don't deserve to care for them as much as Amoms do.
Rubbish.
Lawyers, doctors and adoption workers (many of them unmarried women who never had babies) have always taken advantage of young mothers instead of helping them. In closed adoptions of yesterday and open adoptions of today, all the players take advantage of scared young mothers. They count on their agreeing to "do what's best for the baby" well before the young women give birth, well before they know the powerful, undeniable, life-changing love they will feel for these little beings who slipped from their wombs and are, forever theirs, no matter what pre-birth agreements were signed.
These mothers -- millions of them -- are now "awake" ... and they know they were used by the indu$try to supply millions of infertile women (and today, single women) with babies.
Most of society doesn't know how devastating adopting is to young mothers. Most don't want to know, because they can't imagine being forced/schmoozed to surrender their own babies. They cannot imagine anyone daring to do that! They want to believe adopting is always -- and only -- in the best interests of the babies.
Truth is, adopting is a bu$iness.
When women stop paying big bucks to buy infants and toddlers, and when pregnant women are supported in keeping their babies, the bu$iness in adopting will dwindle, and babies will stay with their own families ... where they belong.
OK, you're an adoptive mother who is "waking up" -- now what?
• Help your adopted son or daughter know about his/her natural family. It isn't only a mother lost, but a whole tribe, a whole lineage, sides of two families, personality traits, physical traits, habits, health, quirks and talents. No more secrets. No more lies.
• If mother and child are planning to spend time together, don't stand in their way. Step aside. This is not about you.
• Let your conscience be your guide. You know right from wrong. Most of all, you know injustice when you see it.
In The Mothers Project, I tell the stories of the girl/mothers who lost their babies to adoption in past generations. The coercion continues. Adopting is woman's inhumanity to woman.

[I thank my friend Celeste for this beautiful and wise guest blog...Trace]

4 comments:

  1. Just read this piece. Powerful. Important. Necessary. Thank you for speaking out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am Native and i adopted a baby boy from the same tribe. I understand the sentiments above but they generalize and condemn adoptive families unfairly with one broad stroke. My son's mother is a crack addict, unable to clean up, losing child after child, and having children who will never know who their fathers are. I am not a "stranger" to my son, nor is he a "stranger" to me. The reality is that there are many many Native children in care and not enough Native adoptive families. And no wonder when we are constantly confronted with this sort of article/opinion that gives no consideration to those of us who are doing what we do "in the best interest of the child" and because we love them and want to provide them with a family and community that values them and shares their culture. This is in keeping with the values of my First Nation culture.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes, Celeste's column is directed to those who adopt and know nothing about the birthparents. You obviously know your child's birthmother, Anonymous, which is a different matter. I am sure that you will tell your son about his family and tribe. I am sure you are aware of your son's difficulties adjusting to life without his natual parents. In my case, stranger adoption was not easy on me as the child. I knew nothing, nothing about my ancestry and my adoptive family were not Native American.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just read this piece. Powerful. Important. Necessary. Thank you for speaking out.

    ReplyDelete

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To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.