Adoption Awareness and Reform: For The Sake Of The Family

This past month, I’ve done a lot of paperwork and research. 

I made seven identical complaint packets addressed to the Nevada Supreme Court Justices, totaling 210 pages. I got information to address the Congressmen of California and Nevada, so I can stay bugging them about Adoption Reform. 

I feel like my heart is leading me to do whatever it takes to prevent another family from going through what we have. 

When are people going to learn that children should not be ‘bought’ and/or ‘sold?’

Adoption discussion is taboo, therefore awareness is slim to none. That has to change. 

In this day and age where the family unit is being attacked at every angle, it is more important than ever to find ways to keep families together, instead of just tearing them apart for the sake of profit or to help ‘poor couples’ in need of a child. 

Family means something, knowing where you came from and whom you belong to, means something. Family is there when you need help, family is there when you hurt, family is there to share your happiness. Family first, because family is everything. 

Call me old-fashioned, but I wholeheartedly believe that the family tapestry needs tender loving care and preservation…. 

Finding the Balance Between ‘ In-Love ‘ And ‘ In-Ache ‘ ….

It has been really tough finding a way to balance regular life with this horrible thing. 

Busy taking care of everyone, coming, going, planning, calling, hugging, working, writing, reading, daydreaming, cooking, cleaning, serving, praying, tucking in, personal time …. house shuts down, sweet messages being sent to and from my fellow night owls, find a moment to just breathe …. then I write.

All that we’ve been through, all we’ve missed out on, the constant worry about my niece, the hurt, the questions, it all needs to be written and it’s so important for me to tell our story. It never stops. Right now, we’re waiting on word back from the attorney about our visitation, it’s going on four months. It’s one frustrating thing after another, but I don’t care what it takes, or how long it takes, until my niece knows the truth, I will make sure I never fold.

Divinely, I have been given the strength, and the courage ( because it isn’t easy dealing with the “big shots” like judges and lawyers and state representatives on a regular basis, but it’s like cake to me now.)

I’ve been given protectors, friends, lovers, unforgettable memories, traveled the world and I have more hope and patience than I ever knew existed. I’ve been blessed and watched over and I have given my all into every detail of my life. I have never given up, I’ve never stopped writing, and I’ve never stopped praying. Call me crazy if you will, but you can only survive such trauma by Divine Intervention.

I am grateful to have made it through another day. As I like to say, one day closer.

Can you imagine yourself waiting for the love of your life, in a cloud of uncertainty if they will ever even appear before your teary eyes again?

Ahhhh yes, the walking of the tight rope, trying to find a way to be happy amidst such deep-rooted sadness. Sometimes I literally say, ‘ tell me everything is going to be okay ‘ because if I didn’t hear it, the tears would never stop falling down.

In the days before this nightmare, I used to write about all kinds of things. Poetry, real-life love memoirs, specific stories that needed to be told, correspondence of intimate letters, my worries, my deepest desires, my hurts, I was always writing.

After this terrible thing, it became less and less that I could even put two thoughts together, let alone create. To my surprise, I found some of my writing from years gone passed, and to be frankly honest, my knees got weak and I slid to the floor against my bed. I read, relived, and reflected. I smiled, I cried, I ached over lost loves. I got a rush through my whole body remembering the happiest moments of my life.

Post-adoption, I’ve made exceptions to write to whom I loved, I’ve designed a bazillion things, I’ve written a book of family recipes. But I’ve also written some very dark poetry, and I really noticed how profoundly different my writing is after the point that the timeline of my life split in two.

The feelings were familiar, yet it was like I was reading a different person’s writing altogether with the comparison of the two. Some of the things I read, I had no recollection of and had it not been in my handwriting, I wouldn’t have thought that I had written it.

Finding my way through this labyrinth of emotions has been hard on my heart, my mind, my spirit, hard on everything…. but nevertheless, I’m finding my way. I’m finding a way to balance the happy, with the hurt.

It’s incredibly hard, but no one ever said getting justice was easy ….

‘ * If ‘ ….

* If you believe in something …. never give up on it.

* If you love someone …. love them with everything in your being; passionately and intensely for all time.

* If you know in your heart that something is wrong …. don’t rest until it is made right.

* If you have any unfinished business …. fix it so that you may sleep more soundly.

* If you are the only one standing for justice …. rise with more passion each time you are beaten down.

* If you have something to say …. think it out thoroughly before you speak, because words echo in the mind and hurt just as much years after they are said.  

* If people don’t like you …. it only means they don’t know what you’ve been through and how loved you are to those that recognize your worth.

* If your heart is leading you a certain way, follow it …. never second guess your instinct.

* If you’re having dreams about someone night after night even though you haven’t seen them in a long time …. it likely means you’re supposed to be with them in your daily life because your heart can’t let them go.

* If you say something …. mean it.

* If you have nothing nice to say …. don’t say anything at all.

* If you have hurt someone, apologize …. don’t make them keep that burden of heaviness in their heart.

* If you don’t really mean something …. don’t say it simply because it sounds like the thing to say.

* If pride is holding you back …. realize that it has the potential to ruin everything and go all-in to fix it.

* If you ever worry too much about tomorrow …. remember that today is called the ‘ present ‘ because it’s a ‘ gift ‘ …. ” Above all losses, time is the most irrecuperable, for it can never be redeemed. ” (the Tudors)  Every moment is precious, memories stay embedded and withstand time.

* If you’ve been putting something off, get it done …. you don’t know if you’ll miss your chance.

* If you seek …. you shall find …. and you shall find them waiting ….

She’s My Heart ….

It’s 6:15 am and since the house will be bustling in an hour, and it’s still nice and quiet, I thought I’d sit down and tell my niece I love her. I miss her more with each passing day as I wait to hear a voice that I may never hear again. I remember exactly her little tone, she was so warm with us, it was like she could sense something was very much happening but she of course couldn’t grasp it.

It’s like there’s always a place set for her at the table, every year her stocking goes near the fireplace, on her birthday we pray and have cake and release balloons, holidays have never been the same since this all happened, daily life has never been the same either.

She doesn’t know what relation we have, who we are, where she really belongs, and who she really belongs to. One day she will, until then we wait. Wait, wait, and wait, and wait. I can’t believe how many years we have survived thus far. Each day, we say, ‘ thank God we’re one day closer .’ And that is an honest fact. We comfort each other and talk each down from the ledge.

I’m greatly anticipating the time when we’re all together, I know I’ll be so on top of the world. We’ll all breathe a sigh of relief when we finally receive our miracle. My faith is unwavering, my hope is insurmountable.

I love my niece with all my heart, with all my being. So does her mommy, her grandparents, her cousins, uncles, and most definitely her baby brother and sister. So many family and friends completely in love with her. The seed has been planted, and when this love comes to fruition, it is going to be the greatest feeling in the world. We’re loving her from afar because right now that’s all we can do.

So before my happily busy day begins, before I start managing the millions of things I do with love, passion, pride, and honor, this moment is all for my niece. A moment to say ‘ Auntie loves you, babygirl ….’

Don’t “Break” a Family to “Make” a Family.

Written by: Jessica DelBalzo

After years of tireless organizing, lobbying, and raising awareness, natural mothers whose children were forcibly adopted away from them decades ago are finally beginning to receive the acknowledgement and apologies they deserve. However, this week’s news articles state that unethical adoption practices occurred “as recently as 1987.” Having been involved in reproductive rights and adoption-related activism for the past 15 years, I can say with absolute certainty that coercion and adoption still go hand in hand in the United States.

(Pic by AMFOR/Lori Carangelo)

Thanks to the advent of accessible birth control and abortion, and the lessening stigma against single parenthood, the sheer number of infant adoptions has decreased since the 1970s. Nevertheless, the demand for babies remains high, and the wait to adopt a newborn is often very long. People who earn a living facilitating adoptions have considerable motivation to do whatever it takes to convince parents to surrender their babies. Would-be adopters pursuing a private adoption are equally motivated to do the same. Factor in the religious conservatives who purport to save babies by adopting them away from their families and into Christian homes, and pregnant women today are hardly better off than their mothers and grandmothers before them.

Though many of the old tactics used to procure babies from unwilling mothers have been abandoned, the new methods employed by crisis pregnancy centers, adoption agencies, and prospective adopters are hardly more ethical than the ones used during the recognized era of forced adoptions. From conception to birth, here are the top five ways in which socially vulnerable women are pressured toward surrender.

#1: Misleading Crisis Pregnancy Centers promote adoption.

At the outset, a young woman who fears she is pregnant may be tricked into visiting a CPC for confirmation. These centers often advertise deceptively and frequently position themselves near colleges or universities and women’s health clinics in the hope that unsuspecting women will come to them for free pregnancy tests and anti-abortion counseling. Often associated with adoption agencies and almost always religious in affiliation, CPCs counsel low-income women with statistically inaccurate information about abortion and birth control, while using deceptively simple language to promote adoption. My local CPC, the Friendship Center for New Beginnings in Flemington, NJ, describes parenting as “very challenging” while stating that adoption is a “loving decision” made by “over 50,000 women” in America per year. Other centers appear to follow the same protocol in their attempt to make adoption sound popular and appealing.

#2: Loaded language sets the stage for surrender.

Adoption terminology is carefully crafted to present a very specific image to expectant parents and adopters alike. One controversial term popular among adoption workers is “birthmother” (and any other use of the “birth-” prefix in describing family members). Mothers who were separated from their children decades ago have written extensively about the slur-like nature of this terminology. Historically, the term was crafted by social workers to replace the phrase “natural mother,” which was commonly used but disliked by prospective adopters. Mothers who have lost their children more recently allege that “the b-word” was used as a tool to distance them from their motherhood before they ever gave birth. They say that being called a birthmother while still pregnant made it seem as though adoption were a forgone conclusion rather than one of several options.

#3: Mothers are given a false sense of control in open adoption.

Women who express a desire to remain involved in their children’s lives are assured that they can have open adoptions with letters, phone calls, and visits as their children grow. Adoption agencies promise them that they can choose the amount of contact they have with their child, giving expectant parents a false sense of control. While it’s true that women may say how much contact they desire while planning to surrender, it is absolutely not true that they have any long-term control over the situation. Upon finalization of the adoption, the adopters have all the power. Even the few states that purport to enforce open adoption agreements for children adopted as infants absolutely will not overturn an adoption because the adopters have refused to follow through on the contact they promised. In the past five years, I have personally received countless emails and phone calls from mothers who were coerced into surrendering their children to open adoptions, only to be exiled shortly after finalization.

#4: Modern-day maternity homes recall The Girls Who Went Away.

Women who were forced into adoptions decades ago recount how they were isolated from their families and friends, verbally and physically abused, and otherwise mistreated and manipulated while interred in maternity homes. Although most of these facilities closed following the advent of legal abortion and increasing acceptance toward single parenting, recent years have seen a resurgence in both state run and private maternity homes. Predominantly religious in nature, private institutions seem to focus on the antiquated notion that because an unmarried young woman has become pregnant, she requires “treatment” for what is perceived as a mental illness or deficiency. Contact with family members and friends is strictly limited – often forbidden – and women living in these homes are not permitted to leave without a chaperone. Many are directly affiliated with adoption agencies, and these often make it clear that a resident who refuses to surrender will have to find new housing accommodations. Isolated from the outside world, required to learn and parrot religious concepts of shame and sin, and directed by case workers who are invested in adoption, the potential for coercion is limitless.

#5: Guilt and manipulation infiltrate the delivery room.

As open adoptions encourage expectant mothers to meet with prospective adopters and make plans to surrender their infants to specific couples before birth, maternity wards have become battlegrounds for women who want to keep their babies. Although pre-birth agreements between parents and adopters are not legally binding, many new mothers report feeling pressured to hand over their babies as promised even when their instincts say otherwise. In some cases, they feel guilty for having spent months getting to know the adopters, accepting financial assistance from them, and making plans to consent to adoption. They give birth while the couple waits – sometimes in the delivery room and sometimes just outside – with the expectation that the baby will be adopted. A young mother with few resources, exhausted from labor, and facing a moral conflict between her maternal instincts and her previous promises, is in no position to offer informed consent to an adoption. In Australia, where infant adoption is neither profitable nor encouraged, such a situation would be viewed as wildly inappropriate and coercive. It is.

While circumstances have changed since the first era of forced adoptions, the institution is still plagued by ethical issues surrounding consent and coercion. As conservatives move to limit access to abortion, deny women birth control, defund Medicaid and family services, and declare that single parenthood is child abuse, the United States is barely a step away from a new Baby Scoop Era. Women simply cannot afford to pretend that adoption coercion ended in the 80s. Tactics may have changed, but the results are the same. Generations from now, this era will be as much a black mark on our history as the last.

Give Me Just A Small Break.

You know, this whole time that I’ve had to deal with this enormous thing, I’ve been really patient. I’ve made it a point to pause and pray when I feel like I just can’t go any further. It’s always only about my niece and you’d be surprised how often that happens. I miss my niece so immensely it’s hard to even breathe.

To add insult to injury, I’ve heard our family, name by name, being talked about, made out to be awful, looked at like the bad guys. Funny how we were none of those things until this happened.

I have seen my closest loves, each, one by one, weep and come undone before my eyes. Seeing them hurt from such a deep place is absolute torture. Our lives, once so bright, when dim.

If I could see Lupita now, after all this tornado that she left behind, I don’t know what I would even say to her. Considering that the last time I saw her she said ‘ setting up one adoption was enough ‘ , I think honestly at this point I wouldn’t be able to not say my piece. I’d have to walk away from her and not look back. Her husband, the same thing. I would love to catch him off-guard and face-to-face.

You have to keep in mind the part that everyone played. We knew them, they were our neighbors for many years. These were people we trusted. We broke bread with them, we were welcome in each other’s homes.

We were completely blindsided that these smiling faces betrayed us beyond explanation and the fact that all of us have had to just take it is enough to make me roll my eyes and sigh with disbelief. We’ve tried to do the right things in this really wrong situation, and credit should be given to us for not going on a rampage.

Think about it, what would you do if something like this happened to you?

How would you contain yourself?

How would you maintain?

How do you keep going?

Some days you have to peel yourself out of bed, some days you’re thousands of miles away, and still can’t escape the emotional anguish that losing a child brings.

Most first reactions I hear is ‘ I’d kill them.’ But really how do you do that? How do you risk facing that kind of judgment from God, never mind the courts. You can’t even say a swear word because that makes you an unstable monster.

We can’t laugh, because then that means ‘ this isn’t affecting us.’

We can’t cry because that makes us ‘ bad people.’

We’ve been picked apart under the microscope, then the telescope as we’re watched from a distance by everyone that wants to make sure this thing stays nice and quiet. As if the details of this secret adoption won’t eventually come out. Sooner or later, my niece is going to start asking questions.

This thing with the now infamous balloons has shaken up things once again. I’ve been making calls to lawyers and sending emails. I’ve prepared packets for officials. I’m writing to the congressman about adoption reform. I wonder how long all this will take before someone even gets back to me because it has been another three months. Well, ten years and five months to be precise.

The point is I know they’re talking about us and I know I’ve made my niece’s ‘ handlers ‘ very uncomfortable. They’re likely and typically scrambling for any loophole that suits them like they always have. Like that fuse that takes a minute to burn then finally explodes, so shall this adoption unfold. I’m anxious for when things will begin to change and I’m even more anxious to have a relationship with my niece. The truth being silenced is terribly draining and very disturbing.

Shame on all those that are getting in the way of our family being a family; at the end of the day, everything comes back. Everything that was done to us will come back to them all one-by-one because they’re not exempt from judgment.

So for those who ‘ think we’re crazy ‘ and those passing their hypocritical judgment upon us, please give us a break. We have been through hell, trapped in a prison of despair, and we’re doing our best to survive this ….

When the Love Overflows, Where Does It Go ?….

When you long to melt your love over someone but technicalities and paperwork keep you from doing so, what exactly happens to that love, and where exactly does it go?….

Does it reside in the most protected place in your heart?

Does it exist only in your thoughts and memories?

Will that love find a way to come to you in your wishes and dreams?

Is that love always with you no matter where you are or what you’re doing?

If that love ever seems to be fading, do you pull it back into your guarded space?

Do the memories you’re most fond of derail your train of thought in a mere instant?

What do you do with all the love you want to get out?

What do you do with everything you feel?

Where do you focus that euphoric energy of true love if the person you adore can’t be in your life just yet to accept it?

Quite literally, when the love overflows, where does it go? ….