Monday, August 18, 2008


This article came out today in Peoria, Illinois. All I can say is Hogwash. Catholic Charities is one of the worst when it comes to fighting us on adoptee access. Now they believe that open adoption works. I believe that they were the last organization to do them. All I can say is give me a break. Funny thing is that Catholic Charities fought against the sealing of records in the first place. Make up your minds if you would please. Then get the heck out of the way of the adoptee rights activists.

Here is the story.

Here they are, playing together in the basement of Grant and Susan Grebner's Washburn home.

Meet Collin, a precocious, inquisitive, 4-year-old, rock-collecting NASCAR fan.

There's Jac, short for Joseph Aristotle Carter. He celebrated his first birthday on Aug. 10.

Of course, there are the Grebners, Collin's parents. And there's Amanda Holland, Jac's mother and Collin's mother, also.

Get that?

The Grebners are Collin's mother and father. Amanda Holland is his mother, too.

With Susan Grebner's prompting, Collin explains.

"She's my birth mother," he says, looking at Holland. "A birth mother means somebody who loves you very much and you got born in her stomach."

The Grebners are his adoptive parents.

Holland lives nearby, in Oglesby. The Grebner family sees her and her family regularly. They met several times before Collin was born; they even discussed names for him. The Grebners took Collin to Jac's birthday party. In a pinch, Holland's mother will baby-sit Collin for the Grebners. Merely by playing together, along with Holland's son, they illustrate a radical shift in the way infant adoptions happen in the country.

'A history of secrecy'

There was a time when Holland was not supposed to know the Grebners, and Collin was not supposed to know his birth mother. In fact, his birth certificate would not have mentioned Holland's name.

"Adoption agencies felt everyone would be better off if we pretended the birth mother didn't exist," says Jeanne Howard, co-director of the Center for Adoption Studies at Illinois State University.

"Looking back, it's very peculiar, but we went along with a history of secrecy, a secrecy based on shame."

Though precise figures are hard to come by, the era of closed adoptions, as they are known, is all but over in adoption placement agencies. Open adoptions are far more prevalent than closed, Howard says. All of the major national adoption agencies, except the National Council for Adoption, endorse some level of contact between birth parents, adoptive parents and the child.

The trend toward open adoptions is spreading to international adoptions and adoptions of children in foster care. But it began in the 1970s with domestic infant adoptions, among the least common of all agency adoptions. In one sense, Howard suggests market forces were at work, particularly the market for healthy white infants.

As the stigma of unwed pregnancy declined, more women opted to keep their children. Meanwhile, children who had gone through traditional closed adoptions, along with birth parents of those children, were searching for one another, giving rise to an emotional movement to unseal adoption records. And private adoptions, arranged by attorneys, were flourishing. Such adoptions allowed more leeway for birth mothers and prospective adoptive parents to negotiate the terms of the adoption.

"Part of it is, women who surrender their children now have more say-so, quite frankly, given supply and demand issues," Howard says.

But the growth of the search movement forced all parties to look beyond market forces to what was best for the child.

"What we're seeing now is a movement toward understanding how those connections can be good for kids."

Degrees - and definitions - of open adoptions vary, one of the reasons it's difficult to track not only just how common but also how open most open adoptions are.

'An ongoing relationship'

"Open adoption means communication and an ongoing relationship between birth and adoptive families," says Mary Kay Collins, adoption supervisor for Catholic Charities, who was also the caseworker for the Grebners' adoption. "The relationship is largely defined by the families themselves."

Relationships may range from both sets of parents exchanging photos and gifts several times a year to, as in Susan Grebner's case, a road trip with Collin, his adoptive grandmother and his birth grandmother to visit Holland while she was living in North Carolina.

Grebner admits she was skeptical and a bit fearful when she learned Catholic Charities requires open adoptions for domestic infant adoptions. She and her husband didn't know what it meant; she envisioned scary scenarios and controversial custody battles. They would have to submit an adoption profile, something like an audition scrapbook and video of themselves as a couple and prospective parents.

But as she and Grant went through adoption counseling, learning more about open adoption and sorting out their feelings about parenting, Susan came to realize, "She's giving us her baby; can't we give her our address?"

Grant says meeting Holland and her family and learning the values they shared made him see her as a person, not just an anonymous birth mother. "I felt comfortable Collin would be in a good place no matter what she decided."

Holland's initial reaction was different.

"I thought this was great," she recalls. "It offered me some kind of control. I could pick the people I wanted and meet them." Still, she worried about the potential for awkward situations. Her mother didn't tell her at the time that she doubted Holland would ever get to see the baby once the adoption was finalized.

Though some states do, Illinois does not have laws to enforce open adoption arrangements. Legally, adoptive parents could cut off contact at any time.

"It's more of an ethical decision families make, a moral decision," says Collins, the adoption supervisor at Catholic Charities.

The Grebners say the relationship is working out in all the ways they had hoped. "And then some," Holland adds.

When the Grebners decided to adopt a second child, Holland wrote a letter for their adoption profile.

"Dear Birthmother," she wrote, "I know if you are reading this you are in a hard position right now. I was once there myself and do not envy anyone who has to go through it."

She went on to say how the Grebners did not pressure her, how they respected her and her family's feelings.

Little Sophia Grace, born in June, is in the basement also, fast asleep while Collin and Jac play. Coincidentally, her birth mother's first name is Amanda, also.

"Now," Susan Grebner says, "I think I would've been disappointed if Sophia's mother hadn't wanted an open adoption."


The Improper Adoptee said...

Yeah, I saw this too, on MSN or someplace yesterday, and my first thought was this is bullshit. I think in leiu of all the rightful critizm they get, they are just trying to make themselves not look so bad. Notice how they never mention that real mothers in Open Adoption have NO legal rights to see their children if the AP's take off, notice how they don't mention that this has happened more often than not, and notice how they ignore the extreme confusion and feelings of rejection a child still has due to his real mother placing him or her in Open Adoption. Whenever they talk about Open Adoption, they only show little kids, who may not be able to express their feelings about being in Open Adoption(because they don't understand it all yet as a two year old can't) The older kids however, are the ones who can express the negative feelings that Open Adoption causes towards both their real mother and their adoptive mother. As usual, all the important stuff in articles like this, are swept under the rug.

Unknown said...

Peoria IL is my hometown....doesn't it just make me proud? Did you see my post there?

Good job, Darlin' and congrats on the rodeo. You rock!


Amyadoptee said...

I agree with you. There are those that are in truly open adoptions. I wonder what kind of effects that they will feel. Will they feel just as abandoned as we do from the closed era? Then there are those mothers who don't work to maintain the open adoption because of the pain of adoption. Do they realize how badly they hurt the adoptee as well? We won't know how open adoption will affect adoptees until another ten years from now.

I personally can't stand Catholic Charities because they screw up more reunions. Catholic Charities probably also controls the relationships of these people anyway. I know of more adoptees who have had to communicate with their parents via a confidential intermediary for years. One friend of mine had to wait five years. I know of a natural mother in Indiana who had to deal with the CI for a couple of years as well. I think very honestly that contributed in his suicide.

Not too many adoption agencies state up front that there is no legal guarantee for the natural parents.

I get so disenchanted with adoption at times. It needs such massive reforms from domestic infant, international and to international adoption. In fact, I had an adopter from LDS comment on a march post. The ignorance that spewed from her mouth stunned me.

The Improper Adoptee said...

Is that comment still up? I'd love to read it-(if so, which blog is it on please?). I don't know what is wrong with Mormons, but they are just more proof, that Christianity done wrong acts like a form of mental illness. I am very sorry about your freind's suicide-I think the Catholic Church and Catholic Charities are a cover for a satanic cult-it makes me furious how cold and insensative they get to be about Adoption and no does anything to control or stop them. (especially after how all those preists molested kids). People need to see how they treat Adopted people(kids) is a form of abuse too. I have my own little Christian nightmare to deal with, Billie, whose blog is linked to mine-she is unbelivably mean and rude and refuses to hear the truth by those who live it. She thinks she is doing God's work by Adopting and those of us to complain about Adoption are the devil getting in the way of her worshipping God, because she says she knows people who are happy they were Adopted. I'm personally sick of selfish people using God as a shield to screw over other people for their own personal gain...and after 48 years of this snake shit, I am personally sick of the word Adoption too....

Amyadoptee said...

Are you sure that you want to read it? It will tick you off beyond belief. The reason why she posted it on the Camira Bailey post is because she was defending LDS. I don't like LDS because I know too many cases where the mother and the father have been kicked to the curb and denied their parental rights. In Camira's case, they have documented proof where they threatened her with CPS action.

In the Shawn McDonald case, they completely bypassed him. The agency social worker told the "adopters" that his son was free for adoption. He was not. Shawn had filed on the putative registry and has been paying child support. The social worker was placed on a two year probation which he still hasn't served. The agency was fined $100,000. He recently won his tort claim against both the LDS Family Services and the LDS Church for $650,000. He is still fighting the appeal on the decision of guardianship to the "adopters." During this time, they found out that there was another father fighting in the Houston area. Cody O'Dea has his case finally up before the Utah Supreme Court.Joshua Simmerson, Matt Tenneson, a fellow in Oklahoma, Bryn Ayre, and several others that I know that I am forgetting. The list is long when it comes to LDS Family Services. Its usually in all fifty states.

I believe the post was in March of this year. Sadly in her case, the abductors went to an Oregon court and finalized the adoption without the court case in Hawaii being resolved.

I heard recently that a father balked at having his child placed for adoption with Gladney. Gladney surprisingly stopped the proceedings.