10 years already? How has adoption perception changed?

a2880-tornadobyocalBy 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.

Read any and all posts at THE LIFE OF VON.

Such powerful WRITING!

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!

There is a FACEBOOK PAGE by Carol Schaefer that lists many books: https://www.facebook.com/adoptionbookslist

So what will the next 10 years be like? I don’t have a clue.

Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age: An Anthology (on Amazon now)
Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age: An Anthology (on Amazon now)


available as an ebook on Amazon


my well-worn copy
my well-worn copy
on Amazon

10 answers on blogging, Kindle and my life in general

Von at The Life of Von blog posed these questions (as part of the Leibster Award nominations) and I am going to take a minute and answer them…

Read more about the blog award and my friend Von here:  https://laratracehentz.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/the-visionary-life-of-von-liebster-awards/

1. How is blogging working out for you?

I love it more than I ever imagined. I started on Blogger in 2009 and now have two wordpress blogs = It’s crazy I blog so much.  It’s a good place to write and post on all kinds of things!  A few years ago, I decided to teach a beginners blogging course at the local college. I also run a blog for my class. It’s a lot of blog, I know. (I also help others set up their blogs). But I am a student of life and I am still learning.

2. What is your favourite way of writing?

I type most things on the computer but poems and more emotionally-based writing is still best done by my hand – pen to paper.

3. What things assist your writing processes?

Space! I had to rearrange the office and computer to be next to the window to see and hear the birds I feed – this seems to be the best place for me to start a writing project… I can work day and night and not disturb my dear husband. I also carry a small notebook for ideas that pop into my head so I don’t forget my thoughts. This all works very well for me,

4. Books or Kindle?

Both actually. I love my Kindle Fire but there are many books on my shelf that I refuse to part with.  EBooks and Kindle will become even more popular in the future, I am sure.

5. Do you have a favourite place to write?

I used to sit at the dining room table when I started handwriting my memoir – without fail it was 4:30 am – this went on over two years! It was and is necessary for me to have quiet and silence.

6. When do you write?

I write day and night. Pretty much every day too.

7. Has life offered you challenges and opportunities which inform your writing?

I told myself as a 20-something that I would be a writer when I gained some life experience. I worked many years at all kinds of jobs- developing confidence and the skills that I needed to become “the writer.” Now that I am a former newspaper editor, those skills really help me finish the manuscript.

Being an adoptee and searching for so many years taught me to be patient and courageous. I wouldn’t change a thing.

8. Where do you look for inspiration?

Mostly books. I read others writing – especially blogs like Von’s and many many others. The Lost Daughters blog (where Von and I contribute) has inspired me often, too. I read lots of poetry and bury my head in history as often as I can.

I can look out my window and be inspired – so anything and everything inspires me.

9. R&R?

That’s changing since my husband Herb retired. We walk when weather permits. We go to the Cape so he can fish and I can read, get sun and watch waves. I am working on a work-life balance now and its evolving.

10. What can’t you live without?

Honesty, I could not do all this without my husband’s love and support. So the answer is my husband Herb.

To read Von’s answers to my nomination questions, go here: http://eagoodlife.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/liebster-awards/


The Visionary Life of Von: Liebster Awards

Click here: Liebster Awards. The Life of Von, a truly visionary friend of mine

By Lara/Trace

I say without hesitation, this Aussie adoptee changed my life and my writing. Von is my all-time favorite writer-blogger-adoptee.  I mean this sincerely. I read lots of blogs.  I found her when I was doing research for my memoir.

Von is truly gifted with words and wisdom. Von speaks her truth with clarity and compassion, thus she is an inspiration to me and to many others.  She writes with ferocity as an elder.  I share her writing very often on this blog! Why? She makes me think and re-think!

The point of blogging is to educate and share.  In the past four+ years, Von has made a major mark on adoption reform with her constant concise blogging on the adoptee voice. She also made some people very angry (ferocious actually) – which is the mark of a true visionary.

My blog on American Indian Adoptees and this human trafficking blog and Von’s blog are meant for people who plan to adopt children or did adopt –  and for those who wish to understand that adopting a child comes with a price – and how we adoptees pay it forward since it affects us emotionally, physically and spiritually. Being adopted doesn’t end when you become an adult…

For far too long adoptees were shamed into silence or we felt our voice didn’t matter. That imbalance was not being corrected. Now (with blogging) our words do matter and can change hearts and minds and perhaps laws around the world.

Von is a gift to all adoptees and for the non-adopted who hope to understand the complexities of adoption practices and lifelong, long-term effects on adoptees.

Please take the time and read her blog, follow it and share it.

A treasured postcard from my friend Von in 2010 that depicts her present home
A treasured postcard from my friend Von in 2010 that depicts her present home

Sharing a blogging award with her is an honor..

As I wrote in the preface of Two Worlds,

We gather round the adoptees and listen as they share their story, in their own words, in their own voice. The only way we can change history is to write it ourselves….. and our truth shall finally set us free…

#LiebsterAward: End Human Trafficking

Liebster Award

By Lara/Trace

I am very honored to have received the Liebster Blog Award nomination from I am Worth The Effort.  L. Dwain connected with me on WordPress which led me to follow his blog.  I’ve since learned more about his work, I AM Worth The Effort initiative.

I started this blog with the intent to inform and amuse but soon realized I needed to blog about the urgent need to end HUMAN TRAFFICKING and reform adoption. I’m working on a new anthology CALLED HOME, and my other two books are available in our Amazon store.

I firmly continue to believe that all humanity should be treated with dignity and respect and compassion.  I graciously accept this award from someone who has been appreciating my posts for a while. Thanks L. Dwain Boswell.

These are the rules according to his nomination.

Rules of the Liebster Award:

1. Post acceptance post and include a thank you to the blogger who nominated you.

2. Choose at least 10 bloggers you wish to nominate with links to their blogs.

3. Answer 10 questions your nominator sent to you.

4. Include 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

Questions for me and my answers:

1.  Why did you start blogging? I started in 2009 when my memoir was coming out.

2. What is your best blogging tip? Be ready to work long hours, do research and redesign often.

3.  What is your favorite time of the year? Fall, autumn.

4.  What is your favorite movie and why? Wonder Boys. It made me feel great, like I could be a novelist and never quite be normal.

5.  Your earliest memory goes back to what age? I recall age 4, and a pool incident with my adopted brother.

6.  If you had to teach something what would you teach? I would teach how we are all related: Mitakuye Oyasin.

7.  Would you rather have more time or money? Money.

8.  What makes you smile? My husband Herb is getting into cooking.

9.  If you weren’t scared what would you do? I usually ask myself if it’s real or an illusion – and if I need to run and hide.

10. What do you do for fun? I watch movie marathons, three movies non-stop.

Questions for my nominees to answer:

1.  When did you start blogging?

2. What is your ritual for starting something new?

3.  What is your favorite time of the day to write?

4.  Many bloggers are working on a manuscript.  Are you planning to write a book, or have one already started?

5.  If money and time weren’t an issue, what’s the one thing you’ve always dreamed of doing that you would do?

6.  What was the main reason you started your blog/website?

7.  Would you rather have more time or money?

8.  What makes you smile?

9.  Have you ever felt like giving up on writing?

10. What do you do for fun?

And finally here are my 10 nominees:

She Goes to Water

The Warrior Muse

River Blood Corn

MariJo Moore

Author John Christian Hopkins

Dana Lone Hill

Patricia Busbee

Laramie Harlow

The Life of Von

I Am Worth the Effort

“Stuck” and Slavery, living #adoption

Interracial adoption
Interracial adoption (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This excellent blog post in from my friend VON at her blog THE LIFE OF VON:

Jeremy, an adopter, commented on the LGA Review of “Stuck”, a film I have not seen and am not likely to see Full disclosure, I am an adoptive parent. “The adoptees that have come out of the fog, the enlightened beings know and understand what is really going on and will do whatever it takes to stop it.” No argument that there’s some nasty stuff going on in IA. But to categorically call every adoptee that does not agree with you “unenlightened”? And a slave to boot?  LINK: Snake Oil: The LGA Review of the Film “Stuck” « Land of Gazillion Adoptees.

It is a long time since I wrote a post on the similarities between adoption and slavery and Jeremy has prompted me to do so. Thank you Jeremy for the reminder!

Before I begin on that, adoption is not a viewpoint, a situation in which we are enlightened or unenlightened. Adoption is for life. Adoption begins with the traumatic loss of our mother and it is traumatic whatever the circumstances and whatever happens next. Adoption is also a trauma when we go to live with strangers who act wrong, smell wrong, speak wrong and have nothing familiar or right about them because they are not our mother. It really is time these things did not need spelling out, particularly to adopters. I don’t wish to be picky, particularly with someone who has been courageous enough to comment at LGA but please note that interesting expression of Jeremy’s “a slave to boot” – perhaps it needs no further comment!

Best perhaps not to put in a search for the term as I just did! Any adoptee who has reached the point in their adopted life when they see adoption for what it is and it may take decades to reach that point, will not wish the same fate on any child.

Any sane adult who fully comprehends what is going on in transnational adoption will do whatever they can to stop it. Once the blinkers come off and international adoption is seen for what it really is, no moral adult could possibly engage in such a process.

Of course those who can, will campaign against it, speak out about it’s wrongs and try to stop another generation of children being made adoptees. 90% of the estimated 153 million ‘orphans’ have at least one parent! Time for the world to make attempts to keep those families together, to stop the poverty that often parts them and to stop the trade in orphans.

There are many, many ways to make it happen; some cheap, some expensive but all possible, feasible and ethical. So, to why slavery and adoption can legitimately be compared.

Go to our old friend Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery

The entry begins: Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work.[1] Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation. Historically, slavery was institutionally recognized by many societies; in more recent times slavery has been outlawed in most societies but continues through the practices of debt bondage, indentured servitude, serfdom, domestic servants kept in captivity, certain adoptions in which children are forced to work as slaves, child soldiers, and forced marriage.[2] Slavery is illegal in every country in the world but there are still an estimated 27 million slaves worldwide; some opponents are hopeful that slavery can be eradicated by 2042.[3]

Let’s take that point by point for starters – Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work.

In adoption, children are bought with large sums of money which profit those who run the agencies, institutions and legal firms as well as individuals who get payouts, bribes, fees or whatever term they currently use for asking for payment. Adoptees are expected to take on an assigned role as the adopted child in a family; maybe to cure infertility, to complete a family, to be a trophy saved orphan or dozens of other pieces of work which the adopters decide upon without consultation or agreement.

Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation.

Adoptees have no choice about their adoption usually. If they are old enough they are often coerced, bribed, tricked or in other ways convinced that adoption is for their benefit, often deceived as to it’s real meaning and it’s permanence and finality. The adopted life is forever. It is a rare adoptee who has an adoption annulled; my own State only allows it if there is proven abuse – that is abuse recognised in law. I have never heard of an adoptee receiving compensation, other than in being the beneficiary of a will.

Some might argue that adoption itself is compensation for being saved from a life of poverty, illegitimacy, lack of education etc. Time and again we have seen how these arguments do not hold water. Adopters divorce, get sacked, refuse education, do not complete procedures for citizenship, abuse, murder, torture or provide dysfunctional family units. Illegitimacy has a way of following us in life – once a bastard always a bastard in my experience!

Historically, slavery was institutionally recognized by many societies; in more recent times slavery has been outlawed in most societies but continues through the practices of debt bondage, indentured servitude, serfdom, domestic servants kept in captivity, certain adoptions in which children are forced to work as slaves, child soldiers, and forced marriage. Adoption in some form is recognised by most societies. In some, adoption is a temporary arrangement within a family or a way of caring for genuinely orphaned children within the family. It is only in the Western world that adoption involves payments of large sums of money, placement of children with strangers and the loss of identity, biological family, culture, language and country. It has not been outlawed and in some countries continues to exist although at a declining rate. Perhaps one day it will be outlawed, as an inhumane practice, a callous act of cruelty and an unethical act and will be outlawed, banned and stopped.

Slavery is illegal in every country in the world but there are still an estimated 27 million slaves worldwide; some opponents are hopeful that slavery can be eradicated by 2042. Adoption is known in every country in the world and there are an estimated 153  million ‘orphans’ who need ‘saving’ by adoption. It is unknown how many adoptees there are in the world but the figure is in the millions. In America alone, it is thought to be around 10 million. In Australia during the era of ‘forced’ adoption the figure is around 250,000. Somewhere, someone will have toted up the estimated figures.

It seems it has never been considered important to keep a tally, a record or to document the history of adoptees. Following the Australian Government Inquiry into forced adoption a study was made of adoption and a survey undertaken which many adoptees took part in. It resulted in the first hard evidence about adoption and it’s effects. We will have to see what it produces.

Adoption will never be eradicated. Adoption is for life, there will always be another generation growing up, a generation with it’s own particular take on adoption and the adopted life. The new generation of young people are talking about becoming lawyers, attorneys and legal eagles so that they can learn to fight what they see as injustice, inhumanity and the powerful forces of adoptionland – the Big Adoption that profits, makes money and grows rich from the trade in children. They will need mentors, supporters and encouragement in their task and the older generation of adoptees will be there for them in whatever way they can to bring down the unethical, the profiteering and the inhumane.

Adoption in some form will always be needed. A conundrum, but there will always be some children who cannot or should not be raised by their biological parents. For them an alternate family may be best but let it be the very best. Let these children keep their identities, let them not be bought and sold and let them have all the support and help they need to deal with their unavoidable circumstances in their own country amongst their own people.

Any prospective adopted or adopter or indeed any adult, who continues to believe that adoption is ethical, carried out for the benefit of children, upholds the rights of children and is a humane practice, needs to get real, to watch films like “Mercy, Mercy” and to inform themselves with real information and facts instead of hype, advertising and propaganda, the products of Big Adoption which appear slick, convincing and genuine but to the informed eye are sickening, saccharine sweet, out of touch with reality and down right misleading, untruthful and coercive. Good luck!

(I added bold to certain points since this post was so articulate and on point…I was thinking of one adoptee in particular who was adopted then abandoned when the a-parents moved to a new state – then he was adopted into harsh conditions with a new adoptive family. Eventually he ran away… Sometimes the idea of adoption is an atrocity and indeed a form of slavery… Lara)

Another post to read: ORPHAN CRISIS: NOT! http://eagoodlife.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/orphan-crisis-not/

Poverty, Big Business and Consenting Adults

Another great post by The Life of Von!

The Life Of Von

resistFor anyone who has not seen the connection between big business, poverty and the resulting consequences for children, perhaps this will help join the dots –

The Indian Land Grab In Ethiopia By Graham Peebles

via The Indian Land Grab In Ethiopia By Graham Peebles.

Where parents are existing in true, manufactured poverty, not the ‘poverty’ that is a judgement on the living conditions, requirements and aspirations of people who live in a world of big business, big consumption and small ethical considerations, adoption of their children may be their only option for survival and one which they understand differently. Where adoption means big business, big profit and adoptees are consumer products with a head price, the ownership of adoptees takes on a different meaning altogether. I remember once reading a blog post of an adopter who was contemplating another adoption as she would have any other purchase. She…

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