National Adoption Awareness Month 2018

Adoption has become a political hot topic in the last few years.  What better time to discuss these issue then during National Adoption Awareness Month.

Evolving from a controversial “closed” secretive past filled with shame where women went into hiding, to a postmodern “open” adoption era where women are posing as social media “poster” birth moms, we have seen a shift in adoption.  However, when it comes to OBCs, adoption remains stagnant and secretive.  Adoptees are trying to change that.

Most states implemented sealed records during a time when women had few rights or choices and were oftentimes railroaded towards relinquishment.   One could argue that these laws were enacted to punish un-wed mothers, an estimated 1.5 million women, who were sent away to hide their pregnancy and the birthing of their child.  There was deep shame associated with an unplanned pregnancy.  Families did everything they could to sweep these babies under the rug and hide their very existence.  Erasing the child that was born out of wedlock was supposed to save the mother and child from societal disgrace.  In turn, it would also save the family from scandal.

While laws to protect secrets may have been intended for one purpose, it resulted in a far greater impact that violated adult adoptee’s rights.

One strong debate for OBC access is regarding medical history for adoptees.   Adoption should not come at the expense of vital information.

Humans have an innate yearning to know where they came from. Adoptees should not be judged for wanting to know their DNA history, no matter how a blended-family was formed.

Adoptee Rights Groups are fighting hard with some success nationwide.  Seven states have enacted less restrictive laws in the last three years.  Currently, nine states have unrestricted access to OBCs. Eleven have access with restrictions, and nine have partial access or partial access with restrictions.  The remaining states, including Texas, are sealed.

This political cause is relevant, sensible, and in need of fresh eyes and modern laws enacted.  Adoptees do not remain children forever.  They grow up.  They become adults with rights like every other American.  Access to our own birth records should not be determined based on our biological, step, foster, or adoptive family status.

Family is Family.  Rights are Rights.

To learn more, please read my Op-Ed in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung

Modern adoption laws are needed

 

Dear Adoption, You Disassembled My Life Unnecessarily

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Dear Adoption, You Disassembled My Life Unnecessarily

I grew up in an open adoption. My birth mom went to church with my adoptive parents. Christa was 17 when she got pregnant with me and her parents would not let her live in their home and raise me. They didn’t offer her any assistance and pounded into her how much shame she brought on their family.

Christa’s mother approached my adoptive mom and asked if they’d be interested in adopting me. It wasn’t a secret that my adoptive parents had struggled to get pregnant for 7 years.

Christa agreed but she wanted the adoption to be open (an open adoption means she would be able to see me from time to time).

I always knew Christa. I never called her mom.

Christa never felt like my mom even though we looked a lot alike. As a kid I didn’t really understand…

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Things you should not say to an Adoptee for $500, Alex

Experience Courage ©

These are just a few of the things that have been said to me over the years: 

What is, “You look like your adopted mom / dad?”

What is, “I bet you are glad your mother wasn’t pregnant after Roe vs Wade!” (seriously, this was said to me….)

What is, “I know an adoptee and they would never search for the people who gave them away…it would hurt their parents”

What is, “You seem so angry.”

What is, “Did your birth mother just not want you?”

What is, “You are so blessed to have found a good home.”

I once saw this Bingo Card.  I wish I could give credit to the creator as it is ingenious.

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I could continue with this list, but I think if you have read this far, you get the idea. We adoptees hear a lot of weird comments and questions. Most of which, are…

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HAPPY LABOR DAY, AMERICA

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Today started out an ordinary day.

I had scheduled a vacation day to start my holiday weekend early.  I got up at 8 am, got showered, and put on a pot of coffee.  I had a busy day planned to get all my errands done before we headed south to Houston this weekend for my best friend’s daughter’s wedding.

I had scheduled the painters to come and redo my bathroom shower.  I scheduled it for this weekend knowing we would be out of town and we would not be able to use the shower for 48 hours.

A young man knocked on our door around 9:30 am.  Our dog, Lana, has anxiety issues and gets nervous when visitors come over, especially if she doesn’t know them.  She was barking and growling.  I opened the door and asked him to wait while we put our dog away.  He looked at me a little confused and responded in Spanish.  I know the Spanish word for dog but couldn’t remember it at the time.  After trying to explain to him in English a few times, it became clear that he and I could not understand each other’s language well.  I finally responded, “Uno Momento”.   He smiled, said, “Ah,” and nodded his head.  At last, we made a connection.   I light-heartedly tell him that I speak poquito Español.  He chuckles and reply’s that he speaks little English.

We get Lana put away and I invite our painter guest inside.  He begins to speak to us in Spanish again.  We’re both using hand gestures mixed with English and Spanish word sentences.  I am partially deaf so using hand signals for communication works for me, although I am not fluent in ASL either.  I turned to my son and ask him to translate in Spanish, who looks at me like a deer in headlights.  In my mind, I was thinking, “Dude, you took TWO years of Spanish in high school.”  Jaren then typed a sentence in his iPhone, then translated it into Spanish.  Modern technology has it benefits.  Jaren shows it to the painter.  The painter quickly understands and said, “Perro”.  I said, “Si, our perro.”  I was trying to tell him that we were putting our dog in the kennel because she was barking and growling and I didn’t want him to be fearful while he was here painting.  He explained to us that we needed to take our dog out of our home for a few hours because the fumes from the paint were dangerous for dogs.  I confirmed I understood and got Lana ready to leave.

I had previously scheduled an appointment for Lana at the Vets today for a follow up from an earlier injury and to get her nails trimmed; although, the appointment was not until later, at 1:30 pm and it was currently 10:00 am.  Thankfully, our Vet is a VCA hospital which has both pet daycare and overnight boarding services.  I figured I could just use their daycare services for a few hours, drop Lana off, run some errands, and then stop back for her appointment.

Lana and I walked into VCA.  I tell them I need to board her for a few hours before her appointment because of the paint fumes in our home.  While they begin the paper work, I see a lady with a small dog sitting and waiting for their appointment.  Her dog was somewhat anxious and playful, puppy like.  He was excited to see Lana and wanted to come over and greet her.  The lady tries to contain her dog and keep him close but somehow he gets loose and comes right over to Lana who backs up and softly growls.  Lana can be funny sometimes on whether she wants to be social or not.  I tap Lana with my foot and tell her, “No!”  Just then, the woman comes over and picks up her dog.

The front staff finishes checking in Lana and then takes her back to the boarding area.  I turned to the lady with the dog and asked her if her dog is friendly.  She said yes.  I walk closer.  Her dog comes over to greet me, placing his front paws on my legs.  I ask her what his name is.  She said his name is Louie.  I was like, “Awe, so cute.”  I tell Louie (and his mom) that I was sorry for how Lana acted.  I tell him that she has anxiety issues.  I tell him how cute he is.  The lady said Louie is one year old and was getting his shots before he leaves for Mexico.  The lady was white so I was curious about the story.  I am not sure how exactly I responded but I think I said, “Mexico?”  Then she told me her daughter just died.  My heart sunk right then and there.  I told her that I was sorry to hear that.  She said her daughter’s best friend agreed to take Louie.  She said her daughter had been sick and was in and out of the hospital for the last year.  I wondered if that is why she got Louie, to keep her daughter company.  I asked her if she had other dogs.  She said she already had several dogs which is why she couldn’t keep Louie.  She also said she was planning on traveling over the next several weeks.  I understood.  I was curious about her daughter, how old was she, why did she die.  I know it was some sort of medical condition.  I asked her what her daughter’s name was.  She said, “Caroline.”  I knew there was nothing I could say that would take her sadness or grief away.  And I really didn’t want to waste words on empty clichés.  So I reached over and gave her a warm hug and embraced her for a moment.  I felt her sadness.  She said, “Oh, that’s so nice of you.”  It was all I could think to do.  I felt my embrace may mean much more than my words.

I get in the car and call my son, Jaren.  I ask him how the fumes are.  He said it was so bad that he had to leave.  He was just riding around in his car.  Neither of us had eaten yet so I suggested we meet up somewhere.  We met at local restaurant that I wanted my son to try.  I had been there only once before and enjoyed it.  They have things like quiche and custom cakes and everything is homemade.  We each got a quiche, one Florentine, one broccoli and cheese.  Jaren got chicken gumbo soup.  I got tomato bisque.  We cut our quiche in half and shared it.  Then we just talked.  It was the best part of my day.

We leave the restaurant.  I head for the VCA hospital for Lana’s appointment.  Jaren heads back home.

I decided to stop by my bank real quick, which was on the way to VCA hospital.  My lease ended in August.  I had gone way over my mileage and I didn’t want to be penalized if/when I returned my lease.  I also had a few dings here and there.  And I was concerned about getting an approval with a low rate with no money down.  Mostly, I still loved my Corolla and I was not ready to get another car.  I had stopped by my bank a few weeks prior to see about getting an auto loan.  Aparna, a Relationship Banker was very friendly and helpful.  She called their auto loan division and then put me on the phone to start the approval process.  Within a few weeks, I was approved for the full balance owed Toyota at a low rate.

Since I had began speaking directly with the Auto Loan division after my initial in-person conversation, Aparna called me and left a message to follow up on my auto loan status and approval.  I wanted to return her call but had not had the chance yet.  I thought this was the perfect opportunity to stop by in person to personally thank her.  I was hoping she was working today.  I walked in and Aparna was working and available which almost never happens.  There is almost always a wait to see any relationship banker at this branch.  She sees me and asks if she can help me.  I walk over to her office and remind her that she called and left me a message and that she helped me with my auto loan.  She said she remembered.  I tell her I got approved!  I shook her hand with genuine gratitude and thanked her so much for her help.  She smiled warmly and proudly.  She said she was glad she could help.

I leave the bank and drive to the VCA hospital.  They bring Lana up front and take us to a room for her appointment.  The Veterinarian comes in the room smiling.  She is new to this office.  I like her already.  We talk about Lana.  She says they already trimmed her nails and that Lana looks healthy and is walking fine.  I was happy to hear that.  She says Lana is a sweet girl.  I am touched by her comment.  Lana is a sweet girl but I don’t often hear others say that because of her anxiety, she can appear mean.

Lana was adopted from a local animal services in the summer of 2014.  She was a stray that was found with her canine mom and four other siblings on the streets of Dallas.  I still wonder how they ended up on the streets.  The puppies were two to three months old when found.  Lana has a story but I will probably never know her story.  I have such love and respect for her canine mom.  How she managed to take care of five (maybe more at one time) puppies, alone, on the streets of a large metropolitan city seems like an insurmountable task.  The streets are not a kind place for humans or animals.  That must have been difficult.  As a single mother myself, I understand.  I’m thankful that she and her puppies were found and that animal services were able to help her by finding homes for her puppies.  When we found Lana, only she and her brother were left and he got adopted one day before Lana.  Even Lana’s mom had been adopted before her last two puppies.  I wonder how all those experiences impacted her.

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The Veterinarian confesses that other workers warned her that Lana can be funny sometimes.  She said Lana was fine with her.  She said she just walked over to Lana’s kennel and took her right out.  I smile with pride and tell the Veterinarian that Lana must have sensed a good vibe from her.

As we finished up the appointment, the Veterinarian tells me there is no charge for the visit.  I have pet insurance with VCA so this was not a surprise.  However, nail trimming is not part of the services covered under the insurance.  I had expected to pay $15.00 for this service so I remind her about the nail trimming.  She tells me that I don’t need to pay for the nail trimming today.  She said, “You don’t have any charges today.”  I was delightfully surprised.  I graciously thanked her.

I tell her that I need to leave Lana in daycare for a little longer because I want to be sure the fumes are gone.  I said I was going to run a few errands and would pick her up within two hours.  I tell her I will pay for the daycare services when I return.  Then she tells me that they aren’t going to charge me for the daycare either.  I am thinking, “What?”  She says they are open 24 hours and I can come back anytime.  By now, I am astonished.  I have paid them to trim Lana’s nails before.  I have paid them for daycare.  I have paid them for boarding.  I have paid them for other medical services.  I was truly humbled by their generosity and I deeply expressed my appreciation.

I leave and drive less than a mile down the road to Midas to get my oil changed in my car.  I have been going to this Midas for fifteen years.  They are good guys and good mechanics.  I don’t have an appointment but I ask if they can fit me in.  Charles, the front desk clerk said yes but it will be about an hour and a half.  I tell him that is fine.  In my mind, I am thinking this is perfect because by then, the fumes should be almost gone so I can pick up Lana and head home.

As I sit down, there is another older lady there waiting.  After about thirty minutes, Charles walks over to her and asks her where she got her last oil change.  He shows her a part and says they stripped this which is why you have a leak.  The woman responded she didn’t know she had a leak and asked how much that part will cost.  Charles says about $5.00.  I could see that this woman wasn’t sure she could trust this shop.  I found out that this was her first time to this Midas shop.  I tell her I have been coming here for fifteen years and they are always fair and do not try to sell you something you don’t need.  There was an older male who came in after me who also chimed in with agreement and said he had been going there for years too.  He said another dealer tried to sell him a costly part for his Cadillac one time.  He said he came to Midas for a second opinion who told him that he didn’t need the part.  We both tell her that the workers are long time employees.  Charles walks back in the lobby.  I ask him how long he has worked there.  He replies, “Fifteen years.”  He says that Ken worked there for twelve years and another guy for like ten years.  I tell her they have always treated me like they would treat their mother or their daughter.  They don’t appear corporate like many other nationwide corporate chains do.  They are respectful, personable, and treat their customers like friends.

Binoy tells me my car is ready.  I think, “Already?”  It was less than an hour.  He asked me how I am doing.  I asked him if he remembers me because I had the free, complimentary three-year Toyota service when I leased my new Corolla and I purchased an additional two-year maintenance service from the dealer so I had not been to the shop in a while for service.  However, I would stop by the shop with a question if I needed some expert advise.  I also referred my son there for his first used car purchase.  Binoy said he remembered me and remembered giving me a ride once.  I said, “Oh, yes!”

I told the woman about the time Binoy offered to drive me home one Saturday so I didn’t have to wait around on my then ten-year-old Corolla.  I was having some extra work done that day so it was going to take a little longer.  He also picked me up once it was ready.  Granted, I only lived a couple miles from the shop but still, this is not a service that is expected or provided by this shop.  This shop goes the extra mile for it’s customers.

Binoy then tells me he gave me a $10.00 discount today on my oil change.  I usually have a coupon because I am that kind of person.  Earlier in the day, I thought about going to another lube shop closer to home, since we moved farther away a few years ago.  I knew I wanted to get a quick oil change before our trip to Houston.  But since I was so close, less then a mile away already, and I was going to have to pay full price anyway, I figured I’d rather pay full price here than at any other shop.  So when Binoy gave me the discount without a coupon, I was incredibly grateful.  I humbly offer my gratitude and shake his hand.

I pay, get my keys, and say good-bye.  Binoy says, “God Bless You.”

On the way home, I saw a line of American Flags in front of our Art Center in honor of Labor Day.

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I couldn’t help but think of all the wonderful services all these folks provided to me today as well as to all the other folks.  The various businesses and the various levels of service, some with degrees and some without,  from various people, young and old; black, brown, and white; Americans, Naturalized Citizens, and Immigrants.

I thought about the folks organizing the wedding and who will be working this event this Labor Day Weekend to help make this a memorable occasion for the daughter of my dear friend and the groom and all their family and friends attending.

And then I thought about Perla, another dear friend who offered to dog sit for us while we go out of town for the wedding.

This is what makes America great!  All of these folks each have a story to tell and stories to share, each working, laboring, serving, and volunteering their time and talents to help people like me and you, trying to make a difference, each of us living our experience the best way we know how.  And I am truly grateful for each one of these people, for their services, their smiles, their warm gestures and caring nature, and for their kind and generous discounts and freely donated services.

Today was still an ordinary day but it had extraordinary moments.

I hope each of you has a wonderful Labor Day Weekend.

Please be safe and God Bless You

Families Belong Together

I have noticed a rise in adoption related media stories.  However, it is the same scenario, redundant, each showing the adopting side.  I can’t help but ask myself why.  Why are bio parents left out of the adoption story.  Should we assume that no one truly cares about bio/birth parents when it comes to adoption?  Do we believe that average folks may not be able to comprehend the grief of relinquishment?  Can compassion be felt more towards adopting parents than relinquishing parents? Media doesn’t mind showing the hardships of cancer patients, hungry children, abused animals, kids/adults with disabilities, but showing the suffering of a bereaved parent after adoption is non existent.  Why?

I was reading an article that had some adoption fluff.  It was about a couple who after fostering a baby boy for over a year, went to court to adopt him.  Their request was granted.

In the article, the following statement was positioned in the third paragraph, to help set the tone for the remainder of the article.

“Adoptive parents sometimes get to the hospital in anticipation of bringing their little one home, only to find out that the biological parents have decided to keep the baby after all.”

The part that gets me is the wording…notice how the statement has already given a title to people who should be correctly referred to as the PROPOSED adoptive parents.  The statement has also already erroneously assigned ownership, saying “their little one,” when no relinquishment, no adoption or legal guardianship has taken place.  From this statement, one may assume that the couple has not even held this newborn in their hands.

On the other hand, the article references the biological parent’s as “to keep the baby” instead of keep their baby, which was born to them.  This is how pro-adoption folks use their words in newborn infant adoptions.  They use this tactic on vulnerable expecting mothers and parents.  They will allow a stranger to claim what has not even been born or freely given yet.

This statement is degrading to the infant as well.  It ambiguously implies that if the newborn is adopted, he/she is fondly someone’s (their) little one.  He has belonging.  But if the new baby is no longer available for adoption, then the infant is reduced to “the baby” as a commodity; the dog, the couch, the table, the store, etc.  He is no longer a precious little one. You see?

The article leaves out the details of how or why the infant was placed in foster care at a week old.  It provides no details about the parents.  What happened?  I am wary of stories like this.  More so now, with the migrant families being separated.

I am all for protecting children and placing them in safe homes. I know wonderful foster and adoptive parents who love their kids and have provided a good and safe home.  But I am against forced adoptions, forced separations, government forced separations, coerced adoptions, migrant families separations, and any unnecessary adoptions based on ignorance and conspiracy.

When we have one-sided media stories about complex issues with incomplete information, as readers, we cannot make a fair judgement about either parent since we have only been given a partial story.  Too many of these articles make it appear that the birth parents are villainous while the foster to adoptive parents are saints.  That is very narcissistic.  Classic, really.  The adoption industry has operated on narcissistic attitudes for generations.  They play on our emotions to feel sorry for the mom and dad who cannot conceive or give birth while giving the birth parents a blank slate, as if they aren’t human, they have no story, no rights, no validity.  It’s good media advertising.

The adoption industry needs to have people feel sorry or root for one-side.  How do they do that?  Well, they take out the birth parents story or give worst-case scenarios which leaves room for average Americans to generalize birth parents and erroneously portray them as unreliable, addicts, poor, dirty, promiscuous, and possibly abusive and neglectful.  Or as illegal migrants with no rights.

Birth parents can’t all or always be bad or villainous and foster/adoptive parents can’t all or always be saints. This tactic is all too common in the pro-adoption social arena.

Right now, with all the migrant separations, Americans as well as the world around us are appalled and are highly concerned about keeping families together and reuniting migrant families.  Chances are all this media coverage with well-educated commentators speaking out about the impact and trauma of separation will inevitably impact how folks see family separation and how important it is for families to remain intact.  Furthermore, all this information may help those faced with an unplanned pregnancy to see their role differently and help them make a more informed, educated choice. Vital information, by the way, that adoption agencies and fake crisis pregnancy centers conveniently leave out of the adoption plan talk, while giving specific details on abortion, not all based on facts, or the possible pitfalls of parenting, which is based on fear.

To combat this new mass social awareness about family separation, the pro-adoption industry feels like they are under attack.  What has been kept hidden for decades to average folks has now been exposed and revealed on news channels, major newspapers, video clips, and social media memes.

Socialized and sensationalized adoption stories are being created and shared to bring folks back in.  The Adoption industry needs to gain the trust and favoritism of average Americans again.  Social media is their one source for getting that information out to the general masses, using people as protagonist or antagonist to help send their message of the adoption story.  It is a well written script but one that can have lasting trauma and emotional impact for those involved.

Remember, Woman

In honor of Women’s History Month, a beautiful poem about women.

Reese Leyva

Remember, Woman, you were born
++life giver, miracle creator, magic maker.

You were born with the heart of a thousand mothers,
++open and fearless and sweet.
You were born with the fire of Queens & conquerors,
++warrioress blood you bleed.
You were born with the wisdom of sages & shamans,
++no wound can you not heal.
You were born the teller of your own tale,
++before none should you kneel.
You were born with an immeasurable soul
++reaching out past infinity.
You were born to desire with passion, abandon,
++and to name your own destiny.

Remember, Woman, remember
++you are more than you can see.
Remember, Woman, remember
++you are loved endlessly.

Remember, Woman, your power and grace,
++the depth of your deep sea heart.
Never forget you are Woman, divine,
++as you have been from the start.

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ACEs science can prevent school shootings, but first people have to learn about ACEs science

Great article with a plan and tools and research to make positive changes for our youth and in our communities.

ACEs Too High

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David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, speaks at a rally calling for more gun control. Photo by Jonathan Drake / Reuters

After 17 people, mostly teens, were shot and killed by another teen last week in Parkland, FL, what seems to be a real movement is growing, propelled by kids devastated by their friends’ deaths and wanting to prevent such a massacre from ever happening again.

Their rallies and marches and lie-downs probably won’t have much effect in the short-term, as some of the Parkland teens learned as they witnessed — and some of them wept during — today’s lightning vote by state lawmakers along party lines to end debate on an assault weapons ban, which killed any further consideration of the bill in the Florida legislature’s current session.

But their persistence can make a difference in the long run, especially if they — and we —…

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