Native Americans are killed in police encounters at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet rarely do these deaths gain the national spotlight. “Native American people are basically invisible to most of the people in the country,” said Daniel Sheehan, general counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Project.
Behind the Facebook profile you’ve built for yourself is another one, a shadow profile, built from the inboxes and smartphones of other Facebook users. Contact information you’ve never given the network gets associated with your account, making it easier for Facebook to more completely map your social connections.… Facebook isn’t scanning the work email of the attorney above. But it likely has her work email address on file, even if she never gave it to Facebook herself. If anyone who has the lawyer’s address in their contacts has chosen to share it with Facebook, the company can link her to anyone else who has it, such as the defense counsel in one of her cases. (I guess this also explains how LinkedIn got all my contact info – and how later I received a check in a class action lawsuit. And somehow Microsoft outlook grabbed friends and strangers from Facebook and put them in my contacts. Damn those data mining thieves. L/T)
The GOP tax plan would allow generations of the super wealthy to live tax-free. It is a plan so outrageous that one of America’s top experts in helping the wealthy avoid taxes finds it abominable. Read our explanation from David Cay Johnston.
American media is turning a blind eye in regards to the Paradise Papers. Could be that many wealthy conservatives,the real owners of power within the media, will be found to have been cheating the government on their patriotic taxes.
*** November is National Adoption Awareness Month #NAAM
By LT (adoptee, top photo from my memoir book cover)
I have written on this blog about my story, my own search, my reunion, my work to help other adoptees, and the Lost Children Book Series. So MANY times. And I appreciate you have all hung in here with me on the adoptionland coverage, and the human trafficking issues. (If you have not read the coverage, use the search bar on this blog, or the Category tags.) There are so many stories, after meeting so many adoptees. Not just Native adoptees – adoptees from everywhere.
Where are we now? Not far at all… I wrote this a few years ago:
Now more serious stuff…. It’s National Adoption Awareness Month. I call it Be-Wareness Month. Why? The billion dollar adoption industry tries its best to recruit new people to adopt. Few want to adopt a child(ren) from foster care. Why? They are too old, come with baggage (not just luggage), or already talk. Foster care kids are the ones who truly are in need of good parents, definitely.
It is a crazy world out there as more people are waking up to the reality of adoption myths (like “babies are blank slates”)(and some of these orphans are not orphans). As an adoptee I am in favor of legal guardianships for children who cannot be raised by their first families, and their kin. Children need their own name, ancestry, medical history and names of both parents, never erased but part of their legal records.
No more fake amended birth certificates that follow us our entire lives. PLEASE!
Ignorance of biological ancestry has had devastating consequences for some. In the U.K. in 2008, twins that were separated and adopted at birth unknowingly married each other. This year, a Brazilian couple found out after they were married that the same biological mother had abandoned them as infants. Random meetings amongst half siblings are not uncommon, as many have reported in the news, and on the DSR. One mom realized that a distant relative, one whom she and her children had spent time with at family gatherings, had donated sperm and was in fact the biological parent of her children.
From my friend Amanda:
Adoption Statistics That Matter. Right now, private adoption agencies are figuratively peeing their pants about the Adoption Tax Credit because they can charge more when the tax credit is in tact and as high as possible. They claim that the numbers of adopted children will drop drastically as a result (no they won’t, BTW). Blah. Here is some gross stuff that matters more:
-Black and Native children are disproportionately more likely to be taken into foster care than white children.
-Black children, specifically black boys, are less likely to be adopted.
-Adopted children are more likely to become foster children than any other child.
-It costs more to adopt a white female infant, privately, than any other child. The “fees” to adopt a boy of color are at least half of this.
This is an industry. Racism, sexism, adultism, and classism fuel it.
p.s. THANK YOU for reading this long post and watching the videos. YOU ROCK!
Roelie works with integrity and empathy. She is the only civil servant that families of adoption-loss trust to protect children. She has the knowledge and expertise. She must be allowed to work on children´s rights, so that families are protected and laws are kept-because children’s rights are Human Rights.
My name is Janine Vance and I am one of the Vance Twins. When my sister and I were sent to the United States from South Korea in 1972, the pioneering adoption agency gave our adoptive parents a document called “Certificate of Orphanhood.” This piece of paper gave the impression that we were orphans. Because this document implied that we had no Korean family, we wore whole new identities without question and never thought to look for people who we were told did not exist. The idea of a Korean family did not enter our consciousness while we were young.
It was not until my sister and I were 32 years old that we learned that most children are not truly orphans but were merely giving the label of orphan in order to be processed overseas for intercountry adoption. What?!? We felt like we had been living a lie for more than three decades! This discovery was the catalyst that motivated me to investigate intercountry adoption and how exactly children are obtained by so-called “ethical” adoption agencies.
“Poverty is no reason to take children away. Poverty is NOT a disease and international adoptions are NOT the solution.” — Roelie Post, Former EU official
After a decade of listening to numerous accounts from global families of adoption-loss—families who have been unnecessarily separated for adoption (but dismissed and ignored because of the public’s love affair for adoption), we’ve met one woman who has truly fought for the proper implementation of children’s rights for the European Commission since 1990. The name of this hero of ours is Roelie Post, civil servant of the European Commission since 1983. She is someone, we—adopted people and parents of loss—can trust to truly protect children from being trafficked for intercountry adoption. We applaud Roelie’s work specifically for the stand she took in respect of Romania’s Child Protection.
Devastatingly, a ferocious adoption lobby made up of adoption agencies, lawyers, NGOs, adopters and their allies have given themselves the authority to decide the fate of vulnerable families worldwide. Adoption facilitators have ignored the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) a legal binding agreement that was originally created to protect the natural-born rights of children all over the world. Perfectly fine methods set forth within the UNCRC such as temporary care and guardianship care, sponsorship, step-parent adoption, kinship care have been ignored for too long – methods that would keep children with their families.
This “adoption lobby” has even built their own legal agreement—a modern day cemented and sanctioned freeway—that has taken precedence over the fate of children from other nations and people. These agenda—driven individuals have enforced their own ill-conceived belief system—their own definition of Child Protection and The Best Interest of Children (intercountry adoption) via the Hague Adoption Convention (HAC) onto innocent families who could have cared for themselves if given the chance. The victims and survivors of this system—trusting and naïve families who still live and grieve parent/child separations every single day—have no recourse to seek justice.
Adoption trafficking continues at an alarming rate and no one except for Roelie Post has been courageous enough to fight against the lobby. In fact, she has been followed, her home office was broken into and ransacked, a plastic gun was left on her doorstep and strange men gestured toward her as if drawing a gun! Despite being intimidated, she continues to fight for children’s rights. Roelie Post needs to be held at the highest regard and protected!
Today, foreigners can apply for a license, enter a nation and then expedite precious children overseas before allowing them to be cared for by extended family or the people of their birth community, culture, and country. Perfectly fine methods set forth within the UNCRC such as temporary care and guardianship care, sponsorship, step-parent adoption, kinship care have been ignored for too long. Huge amounts of money are crossing hands, children are sold at varying prices depending on the child’s race, and children are photo listed on western websites like little pups on online catalogs. How dehumanizing! No child – not even your own – is safe from being targeted and processed overseas.
Today more than 200,000 Korean children have been sent to foreign families. And they are NOT living “cosmopolitan” lives like assumed by many Koreans. Rather, they live daily with losses, misunderstandings, feelings of doubt and abandonment by the very country that could have protected them—but didn’t. Intercountry Adoption only ADDS to the problems a family already has. Intercountry Adoption does not solve a family’s problems. The best preventative medicine is to counsel families by organizations who do not have a financial agenda. We all know that when history is ignored, it is bound to repeat itself.
For every “forever family” created by adoption another family is forever torn apart.
All of this can be stopped!
We need Roelie Post to continue to work within the European Commission on Children´s Rights and trafficking, so that she can continue to protect children’s rights like she has done successfully during the accession process of Romania into the EU and while working for ACT- Against Child Trafficking.
My sister and I applaud Roelie Post for having the courage to carry out her job properly. She is a child’s right expert and a hero to many of us. Being “saved orphans,” we understand and appreciate the challenges the European Commission had to fight in Romania for children’s rights against a determined force.
Roelie works with integrity and empathy. She is the only civil servant that families of adoption-loss trust to protect children. She has the knowledge and expertise. She must continue to work on children´s rights, so that families are protected and laws are kept-because children’s rights are Human Rights.
When he was 12, Keith DuPree was adopted. His 13-year-old sister, Gina Pearson, called their encounter at his adoption party “awkward.” As the years passed, DuPree and Pearson lost touch.
Fast forward seven years to 2011.
Pearson, who was attending Rutgers University-Camden, was traveling with the Youth Advisory Board to Rutgers’ New Brunswick campus, where DuPree, now a senior, had begun his undergraduate career in Environmental and Business Economics. Pearson, interested in reconnecting with her brother, ran a Facebook search and reached out to him, hoping to reunite with “a little piece” of herself.
When Pearson and DuPree saw each other from a distance, they could see how much time had passed. Dupree, 19, was tall and had facial hair. Pearson, 20, was now a grown woman. He had been raised by an adopted African-American family, and she grew up in her adopted White family. But when they ran to hug each other, it was like they were teenagers again, like nothing had changed.
“It felt like we were 13 again. It was an amazing feeling and we never skipped a beat,” Pearson, now 24, says.
In 2012, Pearson transferred from Rutgers-Camden to Rutgers-New Brunswick, which strengthened her bond with her brother. The following year, the two decided to live together as a part of the Rutgers Summer Housing Internship Program, which provides internship opportunities and stable housing to 40 recipients of the New Jersey Foster Care (NJFC) scholarship. In the beginning, the results were not quite what they expected.
“When we lived together, we thought it was going to be the best thing in the world,” DuPree, 23, says. “But we had so many fights.”
Pearson does not like DuPree’s “go with the flow” attitude, and DuPree isn’t too fond of her perfectionist nature.
“I don’t like is that she is a social work major and kinda gets into your head,” he says.
“But at the end of the day, it was the best thing in the world and set the tone for our relationship,” said Pearson, now a graduate student at the university.
While anyone who sees DuPree and Pearson could immediately notice the uncanny facial resemblance, strangers would never know the duo had been apart for seven years of their lives. Like any other siblings, they fight and they make up. They laugh and cry together. But they spend most of their time learning about each other, playing basketball, pushing each other to be the best they can be and making up for the moments they have missed.
“As a female, I missed out on having that overprotective brother. When I had my first relationship, I didn’t have that traditional brother to protect me,” Pearson says.
“I missed out on just having a really, really close sister, who would be able to guide me as a teenager. I missed out on those bonding moments that are drawn out in your teenage years,” DuPree says.
In 2013, there were 402,378 children in foster care, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of those, 53% will reunite with their parents, but for Pearson and DuPree, their relationship with each other is the only fragment of their biological family that they want to hold on to.
Their mother was a drug addict who died in 2008, and they do not know the whereabouts of their father, who, Pearson says, never accepted them as his own. DuPree and Pearson have also lost touch with their two older siblings, who they believe are envious of their abilities to get a college education.
“It’s easier if my brother and I stay away from the past,” Pearson said.
DuPree has nicknamed her “G,” she calls him by his middle name Terron; they value what they have found after years of being apart.
“Our relationship is inspiring, and it’s definitely humbling,” DuPree said. “I think that something like this is underappreciated, and people underestimate the impact siblings can have on you.”
Pearson said her brother was the best thing that came out of her experience at Rutgers, and that she is “never letting him go.”
“Our relationship is lasting, exciting, genuine and sincere, and he is going to be the one walking me down my aisle,” she said.
Vaishali Gauba is a member of the USA TODAY contributor network.
NOTE: I am posting this disgusting story because it’s obvious the lengths some people will go to fulfill THEIR NEEDS – and it’s not about the baby or mothers and fathers or the future. It’s about the adopters. It’s about what they want – and that goal is a baby/babies. There is something so psycho about this, it’s hard to fathom it’s still happening in 2015. AND there is ICWA to consider in this case. When there is money involved, buying a baby is child trafficking, not adoption. Laramie (My comment is noted)
Adoption struggles lead local woman to write book
September 10, 2015 | A.K. Barnes, Staff Writer
Photo A.K. Barnes Crystal Hodges Guffey signs her book Some Call it Life, Others Call it Faith, Aug. 29 at the Salem First Baptist Church. Guffey’s book is about the struggles she faced that led her and her husband to eventually becoming parents through a horrific story of a corrupt adoption service. [Order this photo]
Some Call it Life, Others Call it Faith, is the title of Crystal Hodges Guffey, of Salem’s new book. One she wrote after a season of trials and testing of her faith. Guffey held a book signing for her newly published book at Salem First Baptist Church on Aug. 29. Her parents are pastors at the church.Members of the local community came out to show their love and support. Some smiled, some laughed and others cried as they showed their support to someone who has been a light to all, and has such a remarkable story to tell. “As a young girl, I always wanted to be an author, I repressed that for a very long time, because I felt like I didn’t have the writing skills or abilities to do that. After going through what I went through, I thought “I can’t be the only one” and after researching books I couldn’t find one that related to what I was going through,” Guffey said.
There were moments when she questioned God’s plan and sought to understand exactly what he was doing. Her book is based on her life and the struggles she faced such as early marriage, misunderstanding, infertility, college, potential adoption and a hysterectomy.
Guffey is a 2002 graduate of Salem and she said as a little girl she always wanted to be an author so this is one of her life dreams coming true. Who better to share this with than her home town of Salem, Ark. “I grew up in Salem as your typical cheerleader and I participated in band. I was more of a cheerleader than anything,” she said.
Guffey and her husband Josh were married when she was 17 years old. The couple was high school sweethearts, they knew they wanted to be together and decided to tie the knot before they headed to college. “We knew we wanted to start our lives together. I’ve always been an old soul and Josh knew that I was the person he wanted to marry. So after talking to our families we started our lives. We experienced college together,” she said.
Shortly after arriving to college was when her medical problems began. While taking a physical education class in 2002 at UCA in Conway, she collapsed on the tennis courts. “I reached to hit a ball and I stretched really far and I felt this pain I have never experienced before and I fell to the ground,” she said. Guffey learned at just 18 years old that she had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. (PTOS) “Every month when women ovulate they have eggs, I would never do that. My body would just create these cysts and they would rupture continuously,” she said.
On top of PTOS, Guffey also found that she had Indymetriousis. “Whenever I heard those words, I knew that it meant it was going to be hard. When the doctor said the chances of ever getting pregnant and staying pregnant were never going to be a part of my life, I felt like a piece of my soul and all of my heart were crushed. I felt like the one thing God put me on this Earth to be, the one thing I truly wanted to be, was a mother. No matter what, that was the one thing I always wanted to be. I felt like it was being taken from me. At 18 years old, in an emergency, at that very moment, I felt like it was taken from me,” she said.
After learning the possibility of having children was low, Guffey and her husband tried with medical assistance for pregnancy for five years. They started treatments to help in the ovulation process. After never-ending doctors’ appointments and failed attempts at pregnancy, in 2007 she decided that she had enough disappointment. “In March 17, 2007 when I found out that I wasn’t pregnant, after going through a tremendous amount of fertility drugs, I just said no more. I can handle no more. I felt like in that moment that God had taken that ability to be a mother away from me because my husband was against adoption. I was angry, I was hurt. I felt left out with everyone else in the light of God. I felt like I was that one person that the light had been snuffed out,” Guffey painfully said.
After this emotional time in her life, Guffey gave up on everything. “I gave up on my marriage, on God, on my family and I gave up on life. If I made it through and I laughed, hey I laughed. That’s how I lived for about two months,” she said. Realizing her marriage and life was in turmoil, when her husband came home one day, stating her needed to talk she feared the worse. What she heard instead was hope. Her husband told her that he wanted to adopt a baby. “It was like the flood gates of Heaven opened up and God said “Your heart is not dead.” I am with you,” she said.
In Dec. 2007, the couple decided to adopt through a Little Rock based agency, called Adoption Advantage. They were assigned a birth mother coordinator who mediated between the birth couple and the couple. Crystal said they had to pay close to $30 thousand dollars up front and that didn’t guarantee that they would be able to adopt a child. This doesn’t include the near $11,000 they spent on birth mother fees. The Guffeys became responsible for helping assist the birth mother with her bills. Anything from, electricity, medical, rent and groceries bills were paid. “You were placed on a waiting list and the length of time you waited depended on what kind of child you will take and you are never guaranteed a child,” she said.
By Feb 2008 the Guffey’s were in connection with the birth mother of their first daughter Brianna. The adoption process was extremely hard. Unknown to the Guffeys, the people who ran Adoption Advantage were corrupt and wanted in multiple states for adoption fraud as well as other kinds of fraud. After going through numerous birth mother coordinators and unanswered phone calls by the agency, she decided to drive to the agency herself and demanded copies of her files.
The child the couple was promised was born in June, 2008. They had since hired another agency and an out of state attorney to assist in this process, due to their suspicions of the agency. This cost them close to four thousand dollars. After hearing the birth mother was in labor for five days and no phone call was returned agency, the family became even more afraid. Finally, the birth father called and said come to the hospital.
Neither the birth mother coordinator or the agency called or returned her calls so she and her husband went to the hospital to see their baby. “We called a secondary agency we had hired and was told they would meet at the hospital. “Finally we get to see her and three hours passed by. We were in the room with her and the door opens and it’s the social worker for the hospital, a nurse and the secondary agency that we hired. They are all three in tears. They said, “I’m sorry the paper work is not correct and you are legally not supposed to be here.” They literally had to rip her out of my arms and we had to leave the hospital,” she said.
As soon as the paper work was completed the birth parents signed the rights over five days later. Soon after they found out she was an eighth Cherokee and because of this the Cherokee Nation wanted to take Brianna from the Guffey’s. “It’s what they call “first dibs” and if there is a child who is born of Cherokee blood, that the parents, grandparents, brothers or sisters are registered, then they can be first to adopt the child into the tribe. We then hired another attorney and we had people fighting from every angle. If the agency would have done their job then this would not have happened,” she said.
After a long fight against the Cherokee Nation, the Guffey’s won, but the win was bittersweet. In order to keep Brianna, she could not claim she is an eighth Cherokee Indian, which will be a loss in any kind of scholarships or medical help she was eligible for. “I have three legal documents signed by the chief of the Cherokee Nation, stating that she was not born of Indian blood. She lost all her rights. If she has children, they can never claim to be Cherokee. If I have to pay for her healthcare and her college to keep her, then I want every right denied,” Guffey said. (WHAT THE ___?)
Later, several other couples contacted her about their concerns. “I ended up helping 27 other couples who had also paid a tremendous amount of money as we did to adopt. They went through the same process we did and we were the only couple that got a child, nor did they get their money back. I told them that we have to fight and I understand that you are deeply saddened that you do not have a child and I do but I want to help you. I will testify, I will do whatever you need to help shut this man down,” she said. Guffey helped these couples shut this agencies down in 2009 and the owner was sentenced to prison and remains there.
Two years later, Guffey later ruptured several cyst and had to have a hysterectomy. Her dreams of having a child herself were shattered. On her birthday that year after yet another heartbreak, Guffey told God that she will never go through the adoption process again. “I was so mad at God again, I was so angry that he took that last bit of hope because he knows I will never adopt again. I said to God, “I asked you for a child, I won’t get greedy now and ask you for another but if you want me to be a mother again, you will literally have to drop a child in my lap.” That’s the only way,” Guffey said.
Guffey laughed and said, “Don’t ever get cute with God.” The very next day her cousin called and said she was coming for a visit. While visiting with her family, her cousin sent everyone out of the room to talk with her alone. “It’s just her and I and she says, what would you like for lunch, and I said I do not care. She say’s how about pork loin? I told someone you would adopt their baby and how about corn on the cob? I said what was that second thing? She said well I kind of told someone yesterday, you would adopt their baby. This was the very next day after I had gotten real cute with God,” she said with a laugh. A month later on Oct. 19 they were blessed with another baby girl named Brooklyn.
Shortly after seeing a counselor to help with the pain related to the issues she was facing in life, Guffey began to write. “Going through not being able to have my own children and the adoption process and early marriage, I basically clouded through the whole session. He told me, I think the best way for you to start processing this is to put it all down on paper. I thought “great, I’ve always wanted to write and here you are telling me to write. I’ve never done this but I’m going to start here and now and I’m going to write.” I just went home that day and began to write. I started with the critical moment in my life when I found out that I had all of the problems in fertility. Where I felt like the root of all my issues began,” she said.
The book, “Some Call it Life, Others Call it Faith,” took about two years to complete. She wrote off and on for six months and after getting Lyme Disease she struggled to write for almost a year. After that she decided to finish the book. Her inspiration drew from her experience and hope to let others know that they are not alone. “Someone else has been in their same shoes. Every situation is different but know they are not alone and mainly know that the one person that will never leave your side, no matter how many times you turn your back, is God. ” she said.
Her next step is to create a support group for those involved in similar situations. She also counsels couples who have had similar experiences. Guffey has found her purpose and her faith is stronger than ever.
ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – An adoption file that could answer many questions concerning allegations that babies were stolen and then sold at the old Homer G. Phillips Hospital has been released. One attorney calls what’s inside this file, evidence of a cover up. He and his client say there are forgeries and lies.
“This is robbing me of my joy, it’s robbing me of my joy.” said Zella Jackson Price.
Zella Jackson price was filled with joy last month after being reunited with her daughter Diane. Zella Price had been told some 50 years ago Diane died hours after birth at the old hospital. She’s is upset about details found in daughter Diane’s adoption file.
Price said, “Now you have riled me, you are trying to kill my character, you’re trying to lie and say I was at one hospital.”
Diane’s alleged birth certificate says Zella Price delivered her at St. Louis City Hospital One, the traditionally white hospital.
“I’ve never been to city hospital in my life. I cannot tell you where it was.” She also is upset because the file claims she abandoned her baby at that hospital. She denied is. Her attorney Al Watkins has also looked at the adoption file, “There are some things that scream out at you.” said Price.
Watkins said there are discrepancies in the 103 pages. Watkins says they have living proof Zella delivered Diane at Homer G. Phillips Hospital.
“We have a witness who was an employee of Homer G. Phillips at the time baby Dianne was delivered who visited Mrs. Jackson Price at the time she delivered Diane at Homer G. Phillips. He said people’s names on documents appear to be forged. While looking at the birth certificate Price said, “That’s not my signature that’s not my signature at all.” said Watkins.
A known signature of Diane and one in the file looks very different. Documents also say court officials were unable to locate Zella which Zella questions. She was well known in the community, she performed gospel music at many churches, her actual address was on the so called birth certificate. She was even in a movie.
“When you tell one lie you have to tell another one to cover that lie. So I think it’s lies upon lies.” said Price.
Attorney Al Watkins said they are a long way from knowing what may of happened at the hospital. He says, “We are the fifty yard line at best.”
Watkins is still waiting for medical records to be released by the city concerning Zella and Diane while at Homer G. Phillips
Travis Tolliver burst into tears as he held his biological mother Nelly Reyes for the first time – 41 years after they’d last laid eyes on each other.
“I don’t know how I feel,” he told CNN after reuniting with his mom at Chile’s Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport. “It’s crazy! I never thought this could happen.”
Abducted as a baby, Tolliver was raised by a Tacoma, Washington, couple who didn’t know he’d been taken. His adoptive parents were simply told that he’d been abandoned. But the truth was much more sinister: Tolliver was stolen from his mother, who was told her baby had died, though she was never shown a body.
It’s unclear how he ultimately made it from his native country of Chile to the United States, but he’s one of the “Children of Silence” – infants who were taken from their birth parents in Chile during a dictatorship there.
Reyes was just 19 when she gave birth to Tolliver. She’d had a healthy pregnancy, so it was a shock when doctors told her he’d died.
“I’m going to hug him every day,” the now 61-year-old told CNN. “I love him so much.”
And now that he’s met his biological mother, Tolliver hopes to overcome his “abandonment issues.”
“I wasn’t given up willingly like I thought for all these years, so that makes my heart feel wonderful,” he said.
The woman’s face was pale and tear-stained; her eyes raw from crying. ‘Please may I speak to Denise?’ she begged my husband. Fired by desperation, she’d found my home and rung my doorbell one evening six years ago. I was her last hope, she said.
As a magazine and TV agony aunt with a regular slot on ITV’s This Morning, my job is to give constructive and compassionate advice to those who seek it. I take my role—and the responsibility it involves—very seriously.
So although I usually make it a rule not to see people in my home, this time the woman’s distress was so acute that I invited her in.
Magazine and TV agony aunt Denise Robertson has written a a novel, Don’t Cry Aloud, a lightly fictionalised account of the real stories of the ‘national scandal’ of forced adoption she has uncovered over the years
Her story spilled out. She was a grandmother in her late 40s, whose daughter, single and unable to cope with the responsibilities of parenthood, had nonetheless given birth to four children.
Each had been raised with love, kindness and singular devotion by the woman standing in front of me: their grandmother. They were all under nine and the youngest was 18 months old. The woman was distraught because she had been told that her youngest grandchild, a cherubic, blue-eyed blonde, was to be taken from her.
She had cared for her since birth, and had applied for a guardianship order for all of the children. But she’d been told that one child was to be wrenched from her by social services and forcibly adopted by strangers. Her three older grandchildren, meanwhile, would remain with her.
What perverse and arbitrary logic was driving this reasoning? Why should she be permitted to raise three grandchildren, but not the fourth?
As I listened to her story, I could find no sense in it: she was either a fit parent, or she wasn’t. I resolved to try to help her. But my efforts proved fruitless.
Nothing I could do would stop the process: the machinery of the law ground on remorselessly, and the little girl was adopted. A toddler was ripped from the family who adored her and dispatched to a new life with strangers. I can only hope that they were kind.
For I know with awful certainty that the child would have been bewildered and frightened as she said her last goodbye to her family.
And I know, too, that not a day has passed when her grandmother hasn’t thought of her with yearning and hope that, one day, they will be reunited.
This sad case epitomises much that is rotten about the adoption system in our country — a country that purports to be humane and civilised — and it chills my blood. But the terrifying fact is, it’s far from isolated.
In fact, last year I received 450 letters and emails from desperate families begging for help after their children or grandchildren had been forcibly taken from them by the family courts.
The majority were subject to gagging orders and risked prison sentences by talking to me. Such restrictions imposed by the courts, ostensibly in the interests of the children, effectively silence discussion about questionable adoption procedures.
However, I believe forced adoption is a national scandal that must be exposed. To this end, I have written a novel, Don’t Cry Aloud, a lightly fictionalised account of the real stories I encounter every day.
I dedicate it to Nicky and Mark Webster, a decent and blameless couple who appealed to me for help when their three older children were taken and forcibly adopted in 2005. I’ve written it in the hope that it will provoke a reaction; that it will make people care.
The Websters’ case, also taken up by this newspaper, proved how innocent people can become helplessly embroiled in an escalating nightmare. It began when Nicky took one of her children to hospital with a viral infection.
Doctors discovered a fracture in his ankle and, within two days — on the false assumption that the little boy had been hit — all three of the couple’s children were taken into care.
When I met the Websters, I knew they were incapable of harming their children. I asked a solicitor who had helped me fight for justice in similar cases to take up theirs. He, too, was powerless. ‘As fast as I amass evidence in their defence, social services push the adoption proceedings forward,’ he told me.
It took four years for the courts to find the Websters innocent of any wrongdoing. It emerged that their son, after feeding problems, had been put on a soya milk diet, which had led to a rare nutritional deficiency that caused his bones to fracture easily. By then, however, the courts had also decreed that it was too late to overturn the adoption orders imposed on the Websters’ children: they were not returned to their parents.
However, before the judgment exonerated them, I campaigned on their behalf to ensure that their two subsequent children remained in their care. It was a small victory, and I had hoped it would prove salutary.
But, since then, the national scandal has only escalated. Every year, around 10,000 children are removed from their families against their will, many of whom have committed no crime and are not dependent on drugs or alcohol. Last year, 5,206 children were adopted — many of them forcibly.
It is impossible to overstate the trauma of such separations on those children who come from loving homes. As a mother, aged 82, twice widowed and having lost an adult son to cancer, I liken forced adoption to bereavement. I mourn the son I lost every day.
But when a child dies, there is no wondering. Is he or she happy or sad? Troubled or thriving? A child who is forcibly adopted is both living and lost. To be denied all knowledge of them is sheer torture for the family left behind.
For too long, we have ignored the truth that perfectly good, decent and loving parents are being denied an inalienable right: to love and raise their own children
So what is going on? In my 40 years as an agony aunt, I’ve learnt much about the ways in which governments collude with social services departments to meet adoption targets.
Adoptions have certainly increased. In 1995, the number of under-fives adopted in England was 560. By 2012, the number had quadrupled — of these, 1,100 were described as ‘consent dispensed with’: in other words, forcible adoptions.
One social services department, it was widely reported, received £27,000 every time it placed a child with adoptive parents (possibly to cover the costs of the process).
Fostering, meanwhile, costs them £2,000 per child and also incurs huge long-term expenditure — foster parents are paid up to £900 a week to look after the most challenging children.
I know, too, that some children — notably sweet-faced babies — are much more adoptable than others, and it is the winsome who are cherry-picked. Meanwhile, the difficult to adopt — those who are older, less pretty or who have behavioural issues or disabilities — are often either left to languish in children’s homes or permitted to remain with their parents.
I was told in a letter about a single mother with five children: three freckled redheads and two angelic blondes. Which of the five were peremptorily taken from her? It was, I was informed, the photogenic pair with the blonde hair and the winning smiles. If the story is true — and I have only the letter writer’s assurance that it is — I find the sheer cynicism of the rationale behind the decisions both chilling and terrifying.
I know, of course, I will be reviled by some for speaking so openly about this palpable abuse of their powers by social services departments up and down the country.
I recognise, equally, that there are social workers — those who do sterling work in the face of mounting pressures — who are as appalled by these travesties of justice as I am, and equally impotent to resist them.
I’m aware of this because they write to tell me so. They ask for time to make considered decisions, but, all too frequently, this is denied them because the pressure to secure an adoption is so intense.
And I also realise that vulnerable children must be protected from abusive parents and removed to places of safety. But for too long, we have ignored the truth that perfectly good, decent and loving parents are being denied an inalienable right: to love and raise their own children.
Meanwhile, the blameless adoptive parents who become embroiled in this scandal are unwittingly taking on children who are — in my view — stolen goods.
Every child who is stolen unjustly from a birth parent and forcibly adopted is the victim of the most grotesque abuse
The proceedings of the whole family court system, shrouded as they are in secrecy, have in many cases become accountable to no one. Families are offered lists of solicitors, approved by social services, so how independent are they? ‘Expert’ witnesses, too, appear to be rarely impartial.
Commissioned by the Family Justice Council, Professor Jane Ireland researched reports submitted to the family courts by child psychologists.
She found most of them were written by ‘professional experts’ — some not even qualified — who make up to £4,000 from each report. One so-called expert claimed he wrote 200 reports a year. The sums involved are boggling. Often, the ‘experts’ are merely corroborating the findings of social workers — themselves sometimes young, inexperienced and inadequately briefed — most of whom are employed by the very local authorities who stand to gain so much from the adoptions.
It is an exercise in rubber-stamping: parents and grandparents are utterly powerless in the face of it, unless they are fortunate enough to have a crusading solicitor who will fight to the death for them.
One independent social worker — who left a social services department because she was so appalled by its culture — told me she had often seen children removed from their families on the basis of incomplete, inadequate and sometimes inaccurate evidence.
Yet parents have faith in this deeply flawed system. They believe justice will prevail, the truth will out and their children will be restored to them. But their trust is misplaced.
These parents are neither inadequate nor unintelligent. I remember having lunch with a fellow professional who said, glibly: ‘But of course things like this wouldn’t happen to you and me because we’re articulate enough to defend ourselves against injustice.’
I had to tell him he was completely wrong. For professional people are every bit as likely to have their children taken away.
And yet we persist in giving credence to the myth that there’s no smoke without fire; that all those parents whose children are removed from them must, in some way, be culpable.
The tragedy is that so many are not guilty — rather, they are victims of a deeply and iniquitously flawed system. And at the centre of every one of these personal tragedies is a child. I have heard desperately sad stories of siblings who have not been allowed to go to the same adoptive parents.
I’m now sceptical enough to question whether there are bonuses to local authorities if they are separated — though I don’t know if that’s true — and the effect on them is utterly heart-breaking.
Every child who is stolen unjustly from a birth parent and forcibly adopted is the victim of the most grotesque abuse.
Nicky Webster told me that the last time she saw her three older children, one asked: ‘Mummy, have we done something naughty? Is that why we can’t come home?’
I cannot bear to imagine what thoughts went through that poor child’s mind — and through those of countless others forced to say a last goodbye to the families who love them. Even now, it moves me to tears.
The lead-up to those final farewells is harrowing. Families — birth mothers, grandparents, siblings — often drive miles to be given 90-minute, heavily supervised access visits to their bewildered children in contact centres. Their every move is monitored and, if they cry — and who could fail to do so? — their tears are considered to be ‘emotional abuse’ of the child and the visit is curtailed. So they steel themselves to be brave. They don’t cry aloud. Instead, they cry inside until the emotion overwhelms them.
They must not question the all-powerful authorities either or, heaven forbid, dare to be angry or aggrieved. If they do so, they will be deemed troublemakers, and the scant access visits they have will be stopped.
So they say their goodbyes. They write final, heart-rending, valedictory letters. And they live in hope: that, one day, when their child or children are adults, they will, like homing pigeons, fly back to them.
How can our society condone such scandalous cruelty? The system that allows it must be reformed. There are sparks of hope and light, and we must not allow them to be extinguished.
Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales, is one such beacon. He has commented that, since the death penalty ended, family court judges make the most drastic orders any court can impose.
‘When a family judge makes a placement order or adoption order in relation to a 20-year-old mother’s baby, the mother will have to live with the consequences of that decision for what may be upwards of 60 or even 70 years, and the baby for what may be upwards of 80 or even 90 years,’ he said.
Removing a child from its parents is a momentous decision: the ultimate act of responsibility. Those charged with it must exercise it with wisdom, diligence and integrity. And if they fail to do so, they are guilty of the most heinous and unforgivable betrayal.
South Korea has been called the “Cadillac” of international adoption for its ethics and legality. Many reformists who criticize sending countries such as Guatemala and Cambodia maintain that if only those programs would be up to the gold standard of South Korea, the practice of international adoption would be fair, ethical, legal, in the best interests of the child, and dignified and respectful toward the birth family.
One of the worst child abuse cases in California’s history came to an end on March 5, 1973 when Dave Pelzer entered foster care. Dave begins his incredible story as an abused child with his rescue in part one of a series, A Child Called “It”. Calling this book a “page turner” doesn’t give it justice. Easy to read, but difficult to comprehend how any mother could treat her child this way…
If you didn’t believe before that your children can be taken on false allegations; if you didn’t believe before that many parents did nothing wrong to have their children taken and put into foster homes, where they are brutally abused and sometimes killed, or put up for adoption all to boost Federal and Non-profit Grants, you might now believe.
SPENCE-CHAPIN IS AN ACCREDITED NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION that has been offering quality adoption services for more than 100 years.
(Handled 18,000+ babies and began international adoption in 1991 – that’s a lot of money…even if they are a non-profit… Laramie)
Our mission is to provide adoption and adoption-related services of the highest quality. The organization focuses on finding adoptive homes for children who need families; promoting the understanding of adoption through counseling and public education; and improving adoption’s image and practice.
Spence-Chapin’s roots can be traced to the early 1900s and the pioneering work of Clara Spence, and Dr. and Mrs. Henry Chapin, who independently established nurseries out of concern for homeless infants abandoned in hospitals and shelters. The Spence and Chapin nurseries each broke new ground in developing social work techniques for adoption and, after the merger, continued to pioneer in the adoption field.
Today, Spence-Chapin is proud of our role as a prominent voice and leading advocate for adoption, and of our commitment to the well being of all members of the adoption triad: birth parents, adoptive parents, and their children.
Spence-Chapin promotes equal opportunity for all clients by complying with local, state and federal laws and regulations. We do not exclude, deny applicants, or otherwise discriminate on the basis of race, ancestry, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, citizenship, military service obligation, veteran status or any other basis protected by federal, state or local laws.
Our policies and practices are intended to ensure that all clients are treated equally.
Spence-Chapin begins one of the country’s most respected African-American adoption programs. Throughout the 1950s, eminent women such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Marian Anderson and Mrs. Jackie Robinson help promote Spence-Chapin’s outreach to African-American families.
Personal Adoption History
Spence-Chapin provides adoptees and birth parents with information provided in the adoption record until the time of finalization. Spence-Chapin is able to provide information for adoptions facilitated by Spence-Chapin, Louise Wise, and Talbot Perkins. Due to state restrictions, Spence-Chapin is unable to provide identifying information.
What kind of information can be provided?
Biological Background Narrative:
An adoptee will receive a narrative which includes non-identifying information about their birth parents at the time that they were making an adoption plan. This may include medical or health information about the biological family, ethnicity, nationality, religion, and why the decision for adoption was made.
Adoptive Family Profile: A birth parent will receive a profile about the child’s early development as well as non-identifying information about the adoptive parents until the time the adoption was finalized.
New York State law prevents Spence-Chapin from providing original birth certificates or identifying information for birth parents or adoptive family members including first or last names, birth years, or providing the adoptee’s original name.
When Peter was three-years-old, he was adopted from a German orphanage by American parents, one of 10,000 German children adopted by United States’ citizens during the Cold War. His new American parents didn’t speak German; Peter didn’t speak English. Outer Search Inner Journey is his memoir and the first book written on international adoption by a foreign-born adoptee. His website: http://www.peterfdodds.com.
Peter, you and I recently contributed to the amazing anthology Adoptionland. Did you ever imagine that we adoptees would unite in this way, together, as writers-researchers?
Peter: My book Outer Search Inner Journey was first published in 1997 at a time when information from the adoptee point of view was scarce. What we’ve seen since then, paralleling the growth of the Internet, are large numbers of adoptees expressing themselves through literature, art and social media avenues. The book Adoptionland and the YouTube video Adoptees Flip the Script are two examples where adoptees share their perspectives and speak to the need to reform the adoption system.
This surge of adoptee expression will help the general public understand that adoption is enormously complex, has multiple stakeholders, creates winners as well as losers and certainly includes an adoption agency profit motive.
What have you learned about your natural parents and did you meet relatives?
Peter: I returned to Germany in 1979 to search for my natural mother and reclaim my ethnic identity. For me searching was instinctive, like a salmon that returns to the stream where it was born. In Germany I got an unexpected break and found a great aunt and uncle who warmly welcomed me home. They linked me to my natural mother. My German father died before I could find him.
I grew up in the U.S. school system and learned the American version of history; another example of how international adoption takes away foreign adoptees’ native cultures. My relatives taught me much about German history and how my natural family was caught in the cataclysms of the 20th Century. A decade after WW II, when my mother birthed me, Germany didn’t have a social welfare system established. My German mother, ostracized for being a single mother and lacking resources to raise a child had no choice but to relinquish me to an orphanage. Another case study of a woman in duress, without options, forced to abandon her child.
You wrote, “My purpose in writing Outer Search Inner Journey was to show adversity offers an opportunity for transformation and enlightenment.” How has this journey affected your writing and you?
Peter: Growing up I never felt I belonged. As an adult people never seemed to understand the impact of being adopted. So I wrote as a means of expression. The writing process was cathartic with many aha! moments as I reflected on my life. Insights into my adoptee behaviors and emotions came with putting words on paper. I understood why I had an exacerbated fear of rejection. And writing has certainly been a part of the healing process
Tell us about the film you are working on?
Peter: On Amazon.com a reader titled her review of Outer Search Inner Journey, “This book could be a movie.” The seed was planted. This was one of those experiences where you try to ignore a thought in your head only to hear it grow louder and louder.
I’ve written the screenplay adaptation of the book. The screenplay mirrors the Outer Search Inner Journey and the movie genre is drama. It is not a documentary.
Now I’m searching for people in the film industry who would be interested in reading the screenplay. The movie Philomena, where an Irish woman travels to the U.S. to search for the son she relinquished, has been a terrific success. That gives me great hope that Outer Search Inner Journey will also be put to film.
“Thanks for having me as a guest. I’ve admired your work for many years, Trace.”
[My thanks to Peter for this interview and an update on his work in adoption reform…Lara/Trace]
If you had asked me in 2004 what I had planned for myself, I would have not said “writing” about adoption and human trafficking. I had just left my editor’s job at the Pequot Times in Connecticut in August and by September I was married, my second time. How life changed so dramatically for me is documented in my memoir in much greater detail.
It doesn’t seem possible 10 years zoomed by so fast – it’s like a time tornado hit. Time sped up to warp speed and still has me in its grip!
I know many bloggers on adoption (many good friends to me) had hoped we’d made a strong and lasting impact by now. I had that dream myself. I am not sure we can actually gauge or measure how world views of adoption have changed. (If books on Amazon are an indication, adoptee memoirs are now climbing the ranks over all the propaganda books about how to adopt a baby.) If the statistics on adoption are any indication, the number of babies adopted by Americans are dropping each and every year. There is definitely a demand for infants (primarily because of infertility) but there is still a short supply of newborn flesh to adopt. (I do believe the adoption traffickers are constantly reinventing new ways to grab a fresh supply of infants. Think of what new poor countries or communities they will invade as the demand increases!! Read THIS)
What hasn’t changed fast enough for me are adoption laws, sealed adoption files or the old views of promised secrecy and confidentiality for first mothers. If you gave birth, wouldn’t you want to know what happened to your own baby? If you are an adoptee, don’t you want to know what happened to your mother (and father)? Haven’t we moved past shaming women for unwed pregnancies? Yes, but not enough, apparently. Lawmakers are still being wined and dined by adoption agency lobbyists so I don’t expect to see much change in the laws – but I hope I am wrong.
What I’d hoped would change faster is the perception of adoption, that it’s not as great for adoptees as people were made to think and believe. As much as I’ve read in these past 10 years, blogs and books changed me beyond recognition! Many times I emailed legislators (like in New Jersey and Illinois) and offered my memoir (as a free ebook) hoping they would see the light and change existing adoption laws. Maybe it helped?
Open Adoption- when adoption is necessary – is also an indication that times are changing! But we have a long way to go…This is a quote I saved about open adoption:
…ignored by the adoption agencies is the reality of “open adoption.” Only 22 of fifty states in America recognize open adoption agreements, but failure of the adoptive parents to comply with the agreement is not legally enforceable by the surrendering mother.
There are many excellent writers making profound statements too.
A quote by adoptee-author-blogger Elle Cuardaigh: And adoption certainly is “worked.” When supply of newborns decreased in the 1970s, the adoption industry had to put a new spin on relinquishment to stay in business. Since women could not be so easily shamed by single motherhood, they changed tactics. Potential suppliers (pregnant women) are now encouraged to “make an adoption plan.” She reads the “Dear Birthmother” letters and interviews hopeful adoptive parents. She is provided with medical care and possibly even housing. She is promised this is her choice, and that she can have ongoing contact with her child in an open adoption. It would seem she has all the power, but she is being systematically conditioned to accept her role, her place. She doesn’t want to hurt the baby’s “real parents,” feels indebted to them, emotionally invested. She is soon convinced they are better than she is. She becomes “their birthmother.” It almost guarantees relinquishment. READ Elle’s blog and new book THE TANGLED RED THREAD. Or visit: http://ellecuardaigh.com
READ LAURA DENNIS and the guest post: Welcome to the Adoptionland Carnival, Next Stop: The End.
If you want insight into The St. John’s/Montclair University Adoption Initiative conference from attendee Jae Ran Kim, an adoptee/social worker who I admire greatly, read this. “Adoptive parent scholars and scholars without any connection to adoption sometimes just miss asking certain questions that adoptee scholars ask,” she wrote on her blog Harlow’s Monkey. (Check out the books too while you are at Harlow’s Monkey!)
The number of excellent powerful blogs and books by adoptees and first parents (and some APs) has exploded in the past 10 years and for that I am so very grateful! Writing three books about the Indian Adoption Projects and Programs and that history (and exploring my own journey) and contributing to new books like ADOPTIONLAND certainly changed me.
I am happily shocked my blog AMERICAN INDIAN ADOPTEES reached over 220,000 hits! If that is any indication, the times really are a changin’. That blog came about when my memoir One Small Sacrifice was about to be published in 2009 and experts claim if you have a book, you have to have a blog. Well it worked!
I never would have guessed my life would move in the direction it did but I see that there was much more I needed to write about my life and experience. I let Great Spirit use me and this was the path.
I want to thank those brave bloggers and hundreds of adoptees who have inspired me so much over past 10 years. Keep it coming!