- Split Feathers Study
- Adoption History
- Canada Timeline
- Survivor Not Victim (my interview with Von)
- Interview with Land of Gazillion Adoptees
- Interviews 2011
- NEW: Study by Jeannine Carriere (First Nations) (2007)
- Adoptee Rights Infograph
- 2013 Readings/Talks
- Adopt an Elder: Ellowyn Locke (Oglala Lakota)
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
In my workshops, I gave un-apologetic, uncensored testimony of what I’d lived as an adoptee and some (shocking) facts I’d learned as a journalist.
My topic drew women who work in social service agencies in our area, in important programs that serve the poor. I structured the information using my adoption insights, using current statistics. I gave them handouts that focused on the adoptee, adoptee organizations, an up-to-date booklist, and opinions from a feminist who writes on adoption choices (with views contrary to public opinion of "good outcomes in adoption.")
My morning workshop, a trial run of sorts, was a disappointment - I felt I shared too much personal information, perhaps too quickly. A few women reacted as if they were shocked or they were just plain horrified. It was hard for them to accept what I was saying, even with my proof. I know the majority of people prefer to believe adoption is a good thing, a saving thing. That is adoption propaganda. Some even reacted to the words bastard and orphan when I said them.
The laws and secrecy about adoption were made for women but not necessarily controlled, managed or scrutinized by women. Saving children is a tiny fraction of a much bigger equation. I wanted them to see this, and see a bigger picture through my own experience.
It was a good learning experience for me. My perspective has been ignored and not widely broadcast, compared to a louder, more focused adoption industry. My reality affects everyone in a unique way, depending on their own involvement in adoption.
Fortunately, two adoptees and one adoptive parent were there to share their experience in my first workshop, and politely disagreed with some of what I presented, even challenging the statistics.
Little attention was given to the climate of oppression for the birthmother and the trauma of separation for the baby, I told them.
I asked both groups if they knew the definitions of many buzz words related to adoption – they didn’t. They were not even aware that hospitals and clinics are now serving a growing population of international adoptees. Many were unaware of a growing “bogus” ancestry in America because of sealed adoption records. Many couldn’t fathom that adoptees are so damaged they get committed to psych wards. Many had not heard that some adoptees are adopted for body parts, destined to become future transplant donors. Many had not heard of birth psychology, the bond between mother and child, even before birth. Many were surprised at what I’d experienced. They were shaking their heads when I said I might accidentally meet and date my own brother, or that I had no medical history… Most people don’t think about this.
Yes, this is the Culture of Adoption – a lot of missing information - even for those who work in social services, in agencies that serve the poor.
In hindsight, I would lay it out differently and not give so much information in a one and one-half hour presentation. It was too much! A book on Adoption Culture, which I plan to do eventually, can be administered in small doses, to process slowly.
Some people will always prefer the myths: Cuddly babies aren’t damaged but older children are…All babies need is love…Babies are given up by underage, over-sexed careless girls…
Since the 1990s, more adoptees come from poor families in foreign lands, since single Americans are not so quick to give up their baby. Some of the stigma of an unplanned pregnancy shifted. It's common now to find un-wed moms keeping the baby.
Many families who adopt don't realize such poor living conditions exist until they travel to foreign lands to adopt a child. It appeared some New Englanders at my workshop lived a rather sheltered existence. (They’re not the only ones.)
Truly this blog is about ideas. Not everyone will agree or accept my research. I accept that.
Some of my information can sure raise eyebrows.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
In his report "A History of Governmentally Coerced Sterilization: The Plight of the Native American Woman," published on May 1, 1997 by Michael Sullivan DeFine, University of Maine School of Law, writes:
The United States General Accounting Office Investigation of the Indian Health Service (HIS) Procedures and the Meaning behind Statistics of Population Growth: Complaints of these unethical sterilization practices continued, but little was done until the matter was brought to the attention of Senator James Abourezk (D-SD). Finally, affirmative steps were taken - specifically the commissioning of the General Accounting Office - to investigate the affair and to determine if the complaints of Indian women were true - that they were undergoing sterilization as a means of birth control, without consent. The problem with the investigation was that it was initially limited to only four area Indian Health Service hospitals (later twelve); therefore, the total number of Indian women sterilized remains unknown.
The General Accounting Office came up with a figure of 3,400 women who had been sterilized; but others speculate that at least that many had been sterilized each year from 1972 through 1976.
The General Accounting Office confined its investigation to Indian Health Service records and failed to probe case histories, to observe patient-doctor relationships, or to interview women who had been sterilized. This deplorable lack of thorough investigation only served as an attempt to placate the concerns of Indian people.
The General Accounting Office investigators concluded that Indian Health Service consent procedures lacked the basic elements of informed consent, particularly in informing a patient orally of the advantages and disadvantages of sterilization. Furthermore, the consent form had only a summary of the oral presentation, and the form lacked the information usually located at the top of the page notifying the patient that no federal benefits would be taken away if she did not accept sterilization. The General Accounting Office notified the Indian Health Service that it should implement better consent procedures. Some Indian Health Service Area Directors were pressured by local Indians and by Indian physicians and staff to suspend certain nurses and to move the hospital administrators to another post. Other than that, however, there was little else done by government officials.
Outraged by the level of governmental inaction, Indian people accused the Indian Health Service of making genocide a part of its policy. For the Indian Health Service, this was a serious accusation, as the purpose of this agency was to somehow alleviate the terrible health conditions in Indian communities. The Indian Health Service defended itself by relying on the inaccurate sterilization figures provided by the General Accounting Office. In reality, however, the accusation of genocide was not far off base.
As Thomas Littlewood stated in his book on the politics of population control, “non-white Americans are not unaware of how the American Indian came to be called the vanishing American . . . [t]his country’s starkest example of genocide in practice.”
From a statistical point of view, the reality of the devastation of Native American women victimized by sterilization can be observed through the comments of Senator Abourezk himself: “...given the small American Indian population, the 3,400 Indian sterilization figure [out of 55,000 Indian women of childbearing age] would be compared to sterilizing 452,000 non-Indian women.”
Conclusion: Science has provided a means of categorizing and victimizing those in society deemed unworthy of continued existence. Its influence in academic and political circles has created a pervasive social bigotry that rewards extermination over reform. The failure to embrace the racial and cultural diversity of this country has left a wake of destruction and oppression in minority populations. It is time for the pundits of social change to rearrange their thinking and give back to the people the power to choose what is right for themselves. [Footnotes removed]