Saturday, October 11, 2008

TEACHING ADOPTION IN ORDER TO PROMOTE IT

I wonder who is behind this training. This is scary, really scary. Teaching medical staff, volunteers, and social workers to push women into relinquishing their children. Why must we push women into relinquishing? Honestly. Why can't we promote women parenting their own children instead of giving a child up for adoption. This is sick.

Here is the link. Here is the story.

Free training is being offered to residents interested in promoting adoption throughout the community. It's called "Understanding Infant Adoption" and it's being offered to medical staff, social workers, and volunteers.

The program is part of an initiative to provide a series of federally funded trainings for women's health clinics, pregnancy centers, hospitals, and any others working with teenager and women facing unplanned pregnancies.

Training will be held at the University of West Florida's conference room in Pensacola, Florida. The course will take place November 5 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

You can earn CEU's for the coursework. Breakfast, lunch and snacks will be provided free of charge.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you are taking this training completely out of context and making into something it is not. This training is actually about reproductive choice and ensuring women facing an unplanned pregnancy have access to all of their options that they choose to explore. Training healthcare providers, social workers and other personnel about adoption practice today is an efficient way to ensure they are prepared to deliver the best of services that they can to a woman who may be ambivalent about parenting. I have news for you, there are many women in this circumstance and these women should have access to this option and be able to learn about the option, otherwise her rights as a birth mother, her rights as a woman, are being violated. This choice that many women make is certainly a tough one but how dare you think that the main impetus of these trainings is merely to "convince" birth mothers to place their infant for adoption. Any credible adoption agency will continue to engage in options counseling--non-directive, non-judgmental and non-bias-- with the birth mother until she makes a plan for her infant, be it parenting, kinship arrangement or voluntary adoption. Unfortunately, there are too many providers who are the first to hear a woman is uncertain about her interest or ability in parenting, who then place their own personal beliefs or judgments ahead of the needs of their patient. Medical professionals get trained in numerous areas to continue their learning and advance their knowledge to better serve their patients. What makes adoption training any different? Apparently these adoption trainings are important... considering there are too many people out there who do not respect a woman's right to choose, as well as many folks who continue to believe and perpetuate myths and misconceptions about adoption.

Gaye Sherman said...

Anon - Pray tell, what are these "myths and misconceptions" about adoption?

You may actually believe that these trainings promote "reproductive choice" but your use of the term "birth mother" carries the image of a woman already disconnected from her child.

The training promotes Adoption, not choice. I would think that healthcare providers need to know as much (or more) about the resources available to support parenting as the mother's (or parents') circumstances can vary tremendously.

Anonymous said...

Adoption IS a reproductive choice. I think you are assuming that adoption is only for folks who are religious or don't care about their child. It is a choice and I have worked with many, many women who ARE in fact disconnected from their child, or are unprepared, ready, or willing to parent (not to mention rape victims who choose this option!). They SHOULD have access to this option if they so choose.

I can't speak 100% behind this particular training in Florida as I do not know what agency or organization are behind them. And, I will be the first person to be weary of services that have ANY type of religious, or right wing conservative undertones in them whatsoever. My comment was not in any way, shape, or form coming from this standpoint or perspective. I am 100% pro-choice and pro-woman... and would NEVER condone any program that believed in or practiced coercion of women doing anything against their will. No, I do not work for the NCA and I am aware of the religious bent that has been present in trainings that they promoted under Title X funding. However, the adoption trainings that I am familiar with are the opposite... they are trainings that raise awareness about adoption practice today, particularly the advent of open adoption and the rights of birth mothers-(by the way the reason that I use the term birth mother, is because, in my experience, the majority of women who place for adoption in the US express their uncertainty about parenting POST-delivery, therefore making them birth mothers, not expectant mothers)-and ensuring providers are able to speak to women and hook them up with adoption services if they so choose (WITHOUT COERCION). Are we not supposed to respect those woman who have recently given birth and express an interest in adoption? Should adoption not even exist? I realize that only 2% of women who face unplanned pregnancy choose this option, but shouldn't they be able to access it if they want? Any shouldn't the hospital staff be trained to meet that need? I, too, wish the world was simpler and that all women who gave birth had the means and support to parent their children. All I am saying is that the trainings that I am aware of DO NOT coerce women to do ANYTHING that they do not want to do. And, again, any credible agency that they are referred to will continue to explore parenting (with resources and support that may help them to parent) and adoption until they make an informed decision with their own free will.

KITE KAMP GIRL said...

Okay you are just not getting it. Birthmother is a woman who has given birth and relinquished. I prefer to call them relinquishing mothers. The situation that you are describing is the definition of a mother. Period. She has not relinquished. There is a huge huge difference. That kind of terminology is coercive in itself. Am I a birthmother because I birthed my children? No I am not because I am raising my children therefore I am just a mother. These women that you describe are just considering placement. That makes them mothers, no more or less.

This training was developed by religious leaders with the Mormon Church and religious leaders associated with the National Council for Adoption along with Right to Life groups. The training has a religious tinge to it. Did you not read that report by the Alan Guttmacher institute? There are very few agencies that provide unbiased opinions to women in trouble.

This training also does not address the issues of relinquishing mothers. Interestingly enough, those issues are very similar to those of women who aborted. Until that is addressed, I will always disagree with this training. I have met mothers who were raped that wanted to raise their own children. I recently spoke with another mother who wanted to raise her own child but was targeted by the adoptive parents of her first child. They hired the most coercive attorney in Florida. He is one of those that guarantees that a woman will relinquish. This was just four months ago. Lets talk about Camira Bailey. She changed her mind right after giving birth. The hospital social worker and the agency social worker separated her from her mother. They did a drug test without her consent that came up "positive." They threatened her with CPS action in order to get her to consent.

What about the empty promises of an open adoption? What about the attorneys trolling the hospitals looking for single women

I am not against adoption as a whole because I do see the need for it. I am against the tactics that this type of training does to women. Have you read Birthmother Goodmother by the NCFA? Have you read any of their factbooks?

Both of those creations are about coercing women out of their children. Why don't you check out adoption agency ratings? You will see many of those agencies that participated in the development of that training. Bethany, LDS Family Services and even Gladney all have serious complaints against them.

Wise up You won't win this argument with me.

KITE KAMP GIRL said...

I have a better idea for you. Why don't you go to a crisis pregnancy center and pretend that you are worried that you are pregnant? Tell me then what happens. Go to one that doesn't know you especially one in a small town. It just might open your eyes.

Anonymous said...

I am against all of those very same tactics that you speak of... unethical adoption attorneys, attorneys (and hospital staff) preying on single women in hospitals who are uncertain about parenting, crisis pregnancy centers. I am not advocating for any of this to be in practice. I know all about crisis pregnancy centers and their anti-choice practice with religious undertones preaching to women with fear, intimidation and coercive tactics. You don't have to convince me of these things. I was only trying to point out that there can be valuable trainings that do provide unbiased and accurate information to providers who work with women. Obviously the one in Florida you are referring to in your post is not one of the good ones and I apologize for assuming that it was without looking further. I have read the Guttmacher report and I am familiar with the unethical trainings, but this is one report that is quite outdated. I remain firm on my knowledge about the fact that there are ethical and valuable adoption trainings for professionals who work in the women's health field that are solely focused on best practice in public health, maternal child health and the rights of pregnant or newly parenting women. This is all I am trying to say. Certainly, it is important for people to do background research to ensure that they are getting information and training from a source that is credible, ethical and does not engage in coercive practices.

With regards to your insistence about the term "birth mother"... I say potato, you say potato... what is so wrong with birth mother as opposed to relinquishing mother? Does an adoptee in an open adoption address his/her biological family as their relinquished family for their entire life? I guess you are saying it should only be "birth mother" post-placement and mother before papers have been signed, otherwise its coercive language. Of course the adoption practices I know don't say to a woman... "you're a birthmother" with the assumption that they will relinquish. Besides, what if the woman doesn't "feel like a mother" anyhow? It's possible. A difference of opinion, I suppose, considering all the research and literature out there uses the language that I am referring to.

KITE KAMP GIRL said...

Have you ever read any of the adoptive parent blogs? Not the ones listed on my blog but just google adoptive parent blogs. I have a google alert set up specifically for adoption. What do they call expectant mothers? Our birthmothers. The adoption industry encourages this as well. Call these women birthmothers because they will be more likely to disconnect and relinquish. These women have not even given birth yet. A woman who gives birth is a mother period. What the adoptee decides to call his or her parents is up to him/her. I still chose to call these relinquishing mothers, mothers, all the same.

Open adoption for the most part is a carrot offered to mothers in order to get them to relinquish. I have a huge list of those mothers. I get contacted by them regularly because of something that I have written somewhere that they have come across. The adoptions of their children are slammed shut by the adoptive parents. Since this training is occurring in Florida, I can guarantee that the attorney I mentioned is most definitely involved. His name is Michael Shorstein. Two other names need to be mentioned as well, Patricia Stowbridge and Jeanne Tate. These three control adoption in Florida. In fact, Mr. Shorstein only guarantees his open adoptions for five years. If they don't make it that long, he sure as hell doesn't enforce it for those "birthmothers." He basically tells the mothers to go screw themselves.

Infant Adoption Awareness Training is all about increasing the number of relinquishments in this country. We all know that international adoptions are on the decrease due in part to the economy and in part to countries closing because of corruption. Adoption is a business under the guise of non profit. It is a multi billion dollar business to boot.

Please don't come to my blog and try to educate me. I know better. This training is for the betterment of the adoption industry, not for the mothers, the adoptees, nor the adoptive parents.

Sandy Young said...

Dear Agency Worker hiding as Anonymous-

You may be correct in your assertion that there needs to be training about the various factors involved in adoption. However, the question then is why is federal funding necessary? I find it reprehensible that federal tax dollars, my tax dollars, be used to promote something to which I am adamantly opposed. If agencies need to have training in how to do adoptions, then perhaps they need to have their credentials checked to insure that the schools from which they graduated are accredited. And, providing CEU's to keep their licenses active is not something which the taxpayers should have to pay, either. In other professions where updates are necessary, such as teaching, the principle party is the one who pays the bill, and it is not reimbursed, except that they meet the criteria for keeping their license up to date.

Further, you can insist on calling women who haven't surrendered their rights "Birthmother" if you choose, but please don't act offended when you are accused of coercion. To call the mother of a child who isn't born or has not been surrendered as yet presumes a fact as yet unaccomplished. It is clearly coercive and it is disrespectful of the mother's (which she is) parental rights.

It is interesting that adoption is only considered a "Reproductive Right" when it is profitable to include it as such. It is clearly not a reproductive right, and is not an alternative to abortion. It is a choice of whether or not to parent an already born child. The reproductive right part of it ended at the time that a viable fetus could be born and abortion was no longer an option. However, if you can include it in reproductive rights areas, you are then, you feel, entitled to refer to pregnant women as Birthmothers to separate her from the humanness of her infant and the Mother and Child bond which may not be apparent to her until after she births the child. Few women feel prepared to parent prior to the delivery of the baby. The industry understands that and uses it to manipulate women into surrendering and any ploy that can be used to increase that likelihood is used to the fullest advantage.

If, as you say, there are many women who are ambivalent about their parenting ability, then there would be more women surrendering and all this training would not be necessary. The fact is, less than 2% of the population is interested in surrendering for adoption which is the reason that this training is so important to the life of the agencies, which are businesses who market a product. That product is an infant. In order to increase adoptions, you must insure a continuous flow of marketable product, ie. healthy babies. Since the third world nations of the world are cutting back exporting infants to satisfy the American market, in order to stay afloat, it is necessary to increase the surrender of domestic infants. That is a plan clearly set out in the NCFA's Birthmother, Good Mother booklet and advanced publicity. They spell out in “The National Adoption Report” Magazine, Summer 2006, prior to the release of BMGM, in the President’s Report, “Thomas Atwood on the Need to Revive Infant Adoptions.” (http://www.adoptioncouncil.org/documents/NARSummer06.pdf)
You should read it. Or, more likely you have, as your agenda falls neatly into the agenda Mr. Atwood proposes

Your flip remark about “You say potatoes, I say potatoes,” I find particularly offensive. No other segregated population in history has ever allowed their oppressors to name them and define them. We, too, reject your assertions that you be the definer of our experience. You have no right to decide what terminology we find appropriate or proper for ourselves. We are Mothers, with no identifier or limiter needed. If we are Birthmothers, then surely, following those same parameter, the population you serve would be better called Can’t Birthmother. If for no other reason than Person First Language, Mother of Loss, or Mother who Surrendered would be more appropriate. It is clear that your goal is to see to it that mothers are defined and limited by the event of their condition, the birth of their child, and thereby eliminating her necessity in the rearing of that child. Despite your assertions to the contrary, statistically the child who stays with its mother does better, thereby making the mother an essential to her own infant, in the majority of cases.

And, while Kite Kamp Girl may not be opposed to all adoption, as a mother of loss, I most certainly am. I know that except in a few very rare cases, there is no reason that an infant cannot be raised by its own people. I also know that 65% of the children in foster care are there due to poverty, and if a portion of the moneys spent to promote infant adoption, a situation for which people are standing in line, were spent to lessen the family’s poverty, foster care would not have the children. Richard Wexler addresses that nicely (google his name, I don’t have time to track down links for you). Don’t try to push your agenda on people who are not interested in it. You may be able to convince some poor frightened, vulnerable young woman of her inability to parent and that adoption is a loving option, but frankly, Lady, I think it is a crapshoot, and the winner is….YOU who get the paycheck!

Sandra Young
Senior Mother
SMAACzzogc

Robin said...

Anonymous, You talk a good game, but you hide your identity and we don't. I am a mother who had two children taken for adoption because I was an unmarried teen in the 60's. I am their MOTHER, and I don't care who raised them. I am not now, nor have I ever been a "birth thing." The correct term is "natural mother" and I wouldn't trust any expectant woman to this program because there would be coercion....subtle but it would be there. Infant adoption is a disgrace and an abomination, harmful to the child and to the mother. The number of women who surrender freely and without caring are a small minority. Most women surrender because their backs are against the wall and they have no other recourse. This nation is taking a giant step backwards and any woman who tells another woman that this is a reproductive "choice" is not speaking for the natural mother. In the USA, infant adoption is not about a home for a baby, but about a baby for the "right kind of home with the right kind of people." It's eugenics, it's elitist and it is sick and sad that being unmarried or poor means you have to give up your baby with this mindset being so prevalent. If you want to do something that will help, then do all in your power to help a mother and a child stay together and stop looking at adoption through the rosy mythology that the industry has promoted. There has been too much pain for any thinking person to believe that infant adoption is a good thing.

KITE KAMP GIRL said...

By the way, that report is only four years old. With that kind of training still be used today and I know that it is. That Title X money is being given to either the NCFA and its members.

Have you not seen the free advertising Bethany, Catholic Charities and many other agencies have been given by the press? Please they are trying to increase the numbers in adoption.

Erimentha said...

Anonymous, it is a well known fact that the term birthmother was introduced by the adoption industry to make adoptive parents happy - the preferred term used to be natural mother but that made adoptive mothers squeamish because it labelled them as what they are, unnatural. As for the so-called training that you deem necessary, it was my understanding that the adoption industry was doing just fine without training more people how to coerce single women into relinquishing their child. Your argument that some mothers do not feel attached to their child is completely spurious - I know plenty of women who did not feel connected to their baby until they gave birth. What happens to those mothers when they have been coerced into relinquishing? They get hounded by evil lawyers. Also, the training does not include warning the mother about the deep trauma she will experience when she loses her baby, or the child who is thrust into the arms of stranger and told they should be grateful for it.

maybe said...

So many excellent responses here!

To anon, I have a few questions about your statement, "the majority of women who place for adoption in the US express their uncertainty about parenting POST-delivery."

How did you come to this conclusion?

What are the root causes of their uncertainty about parenting?

Could the root cause(s) be addressed by something other than adoption?

As far as terminology goes, a mother is a mother is a mother. If my mother died and I was raised by someone else, would I then refer to my mother as a "birth mother?" After all, she didn't raise me, so I guess she's no longer my mother. Can you see the twisted logic in that?

On the potato comment - is it okay if I use the "N" word to describe a black man? What's the big deal, it's just word, right? Many mothers feel "birthmother" is the equivalent of the "N" word in adoption terminology. It is seen as a deliberate attempt to dehumanize the mother and convince her that she is unworthy of her own baby. So yes, expect to get a lot of grieve over that one.

If you truly think adoption is so necessary, why not put your efforts into improving the system. Open records, legally enforceable open adoption (which should really be formed around the notion of shared parenting), no changing of names and falsification of birth certificates, support for family reunification post-adoption...to name a few, the list is long and change is a must. I think your efforts would be more helpful in these areas.

Anonymous said...

Look, I am not going to post anything else after this. It looks like I have ruffled too many feathers without intending to. Nobody on here knows what my connection to adoption is and I really don't care if you think that I am lame for posting under anonymous-the internet is too creepy for me to be splattering my name everywhere. This is a personal decision that has nothing to do with you and your adoption experiences. Which reminds me, I realize and empathize with the fact that clearly people who have posted on here have a negative view and have had negative experiences with adoption. I just urge to realize that YOUR experience does not speak for the experience of EVERY single other woman and family. Maybe it speaks to people in your network and on your blog, but that is not the entire population of women and that is not my experience. Adoption needs to exist-it is a reproductive option-and, you're right, it is too bad that it is a business, that doesn't mean that it doesn't help people. Would you rather women parent who aren't ready and then abuse and neglect their children where they then wind up in the foster care system? The trainings that I am familiar with are not aiming to drive up numbers...the numbers will never be through the roof and that's a good thing. They truly are in place to inform people and ensure resources are available to those who need them. I wish we lived in a world where things were simpler and everyone was ready, willing and able to care for one another and their children. Maybe it's time you had more trust in women to choose their own future because if you ask me, a lot of you sound like you have no trust or faith in women to make informed decisions about their bodies and their lives on their own free will. I assure you, many families out there have made the right choices and are happy with their lives and their adoption experience. I urge you to seek that our for yourself and heal from the anger and guilt that you harbor. Signing off, may peace be with YOU.

KITE KAMP GIRL said...

So now you are just going to dismiss everyone's thoughts and documentation on this training? Since I am so angry and bitter, I am letting my anger control this. I am angry at YOU for promoting something that has been proven to hurt more than help. I did not have a problem with adoption until I searched and given false information on who I am. Who are you to decide what women are called? Who are you to decide that women should place or should parent? You are using terminology that most mothers do not approve of. Yes I said mothers because these women who have posted wanted to raise their children and were not given the option to do so. So if women are not given the choice to parent, their children will end up in foster care. That is a very lame excuse. You are not giving women the benefit of the doubt.

The children of women who end up in foster care for the most part did not consider adoption as an option. The women that do consider adoption are women who could parent their own children. What about the children of women who ended up in foster care because their mothers were poor? What about the women in maternity wards who get falsely accused of drug use? What about the single mothers who are targeted in hospitals by someone who wants their child? No this training needs to go by the wayside.

This training encourages violations of the HIPPA laws in this country. This training encourages the doubts of mothers. This training ramrods the religious views of these trainers down the throats of mothers. This training continues the vicious cycle of the current adoption industry.

Lillie said...

I wish keeping your baby was also touted as a loving choice. I know I'd like to see a billboard or two that said that. But no, it's only adoption, adoption, adoption. Open your yellow pages to "pregnancy" and what will the first listing be? Adoption agencies, adoption counseling, adoption adoption adoption.

Under PREGNANCY.

How is this not coercive? How is this not brainwashing an expectant mother into one choice and one choice only?

I don't see any propaganda out there that actually promotes KEEPING your child...only abandoning your child under the premise of adoption.

And now we are funding people in influential positions to do more of the same?

I'll tell you what it is...it is a slick plan designed to procure more product for the paying customers. There aren't enough babies for the desperate AP's, people, we need to convince those pregnant women to relinquish.

Don't even try to convince us this isn't the REAL motivation behind the "teaching" of adoption, because if there weren't any women relinquishing, nobody would be making money, and those poor, sad infertiles wouldn't be getting their dreams coming true.

And boy oh boy we can't have that, can we? Heaven forbid.