32 Replies to “Episode 87: LDS Adoptions”

  1. Thank you, Risa, for giving me the opportunity to share a portion of my story with the fMh listeners. I know adoption can be a hot-button topic for a variety of reasons – I am grateful for the safe and accepting place to talk about some of the things aren’t always so pleasant.

  2. i want Sally to know how grateful i am that she was willing to be there and share her perspective. because while i believe Melynda’s story is true and tragic, it’s not the only adoption experience out there. and just as Sally and i can’t see things exactly how she does, there are many things about what adoption is to us that Melynda can’t understand or express.
    coercion, for too many mothers in the past was a defining part of their adoption experience and it IS heart-breaking and ugly! how could peace come when you had no conviction of your choice or when it was a result of manipulation? i would grapple with the confusion likely my whole life if i were in their shoes. I can certainly empathize with and give credence to what adoption’s been to these women, but sadly too often, they are so scarred by what is such a completely different animal, but by the same name, that they can’t conceive of such a thing as adoption done right. because it wasn’t their “right” or their choice, they can’t accept that it could be for another person.
    I’m also grateful that Sally expressed that a person can want her child and chose adoption. that women like her and i chose adoption for what we want for our child, even if it conflicts with what we want for ourselves.
    i’m 17 years out from placement, so somewhere between the 2 ladies. i STILL have total peace and no regret and no doubt.
    and having experienced both closed and now open adoption as a birth parent, i would say that closed adoption is “brutal” for a birth-parent.
    just 1 more thing, ha. i view the UT law about relinquishment being irrevocable as a merciful and pro-birthparent law. i had 2 weeks in GA to change my mind. i knew what i’d done was right for all of us and i had such peace. but my heart was BUH-RAKING and every minute of everyday for 2 weeks i had to decide again and again to let it break. it was hell.
    ok. the end.

    1. I was wondering how long it would take for someone to seek to dismiss my experience and accuse me of untruths. Thank you for validating my concerns and giving credence to the experience of many first mothers who are continually told we “can’t understand” the positive aspects of adoption (when they are to be found.)

      You sadi, “there are many things about what adoption is to us that Melynda can’t understand or express”

      You don’t know me. You listened to one very small portion of my story, of my thoughts and feelings. Never – not once – did I dismiss Sally’s experience (or yours, for that matter). One thing I have learned across the decades and through my education is that to come to a fundamental understanding with another person, I have to be able to restate their case, their arguments for a position so clearly that I can get someone to agree with me. I feel fairly confident I can do that in regards to why a mother would chose adoption (and be happy with it).

      I have done difficult lifting of reading, researching, and of seeking out understanding of women’s experiences just as yours. You and Sally and others made a decision based on the information you had at the time and you are comfortable with that decision – good for you! However, that doesn’t make your experience any more valid or true than mine. I would never dismiss your experience as being “less than” or an invalid representation of the nuanced and varied world of adoption. I ask you hold the same space for me and those women and our now-grown children who feel differently than you – please don’t dismiss us.

      Additionally, I frequently question whether those who enjoy healthy open adoptions (both adoptive parents and first parents) understand those open adoption relationships are born of the decades of grief and loss so many of their first mother sisters and adoptees have endured. They reap the benefits of open relationships with their children because we were not able to do so,. In spite of our suffering and the active efforts of the adoption industry, we have had to courage to speak out about the not-so-pleasant aspects of adoption loss. To dismiss our suffering and loss, to invalidate our lived experiences, as blatantly as has just been done, especially by one who enjoys a now open adoption….it’s kind of like pouring salt on a wound.

      You said, “they can’t conceive of such a thing as adoption done right. because it wasn’t their “right” or their choice, they can’t accept that it could be for another person.”

      This is absolutely and completely untrue. Ask anyone who knows me, and they will vouch for me on this issue. I am very aware **AND** I accept there are situations where adoption is a valid choice for all involved. In fact, some of my best friends have built beautiful families through adoption. There is no blanket “right” when it comes to adoption . I have said and maintain that “each situation must be evaluated on an individual basis. We have a moral imperative do all we can do to preserve the original family of mother and child. If family preservation was good enough for the Son of God, then it is good enough for other mothers and children, too. “As ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren…”

      In short, I do not seek to invalidate your adoption experience, to but make sure future generations of adoptees are only (a) adopted if they *really* need a family, (b) are able to access full and factual information regarding their genetic parentage, and (c) are legally able to maintain relationships with their first families when safe to do so.

      You also said: “i view the UT law about relinquishment being irrevocable as a merciful and pro-birthparent law”

      I can understand the emotionality of your position, but **years** of research, both scientific and anecdotal, point to the inhumanity of these types of laws for the vast majority of first parents. In Utah, you have three days to change your mind about purchasing a fridge you’ve had your eye on for the last six months or an impulse purchase of a lipstick from your neighbor’s Mary Kay party. Might it be possible to extend the same level of courtesy to a new mother whose body is still raw and most likely under the influence of heavy pain meds from delivery?

    2. I specifically asked both Sally and Melynda to share their stories because I knew they both could stand by the courage of their convictions without dismissing or marginalizing the other’s experience or opinions. There is room for everyone’s experience and stories and as Melynda pointed out on the podcast, that doesn’t make anyone right or wrong. When it comes to being a birth parent, can’t we all open our hearts and have the compassion to allow others the right to have their stories and experiences be valid without fearing that their differences invalidates us?

    3. Tamra, it’s good that you expressed your views. I’m sorry that it was in such a way as to diminish Melynda’s experience. I don’t think differing views and experiences have to take away from each other. Melynda expressed many times that her experience is not reflective of every experience. Yet, she represents a large amount of women who suffer in silence because when they express their pain, well-meaning church members try to stir them back to a “happy place”. Their pain NEEDS to be acknowledged and valued and I honor her for doing so.

  3. Thank you for this podcast. Thank you to Mylenda especially for sharing your heartbreak. I am 16 years from relinquishment and my heart aches more now than it did at 2 or 5 years. I see the impact now of what I chose then. I just didn’t understand. I see my children wishing for their sister. I have tried to minimize this and will do so no longer. I will let them grieve as it really is also their loss. I spent most of the night on your blog, reading your words. You ask many of the same questions I have asked for years. I too have returned to LDSFS to ask my questions. There is no answer. Mistakes were made. There is no one to take responsibility for the manipulation of vulnerable-mothers-who-are-still-children. Thanks for helping me feel less alone. Thanks for helping me know my truth is okay to speak and be heard.

    1. Abbey – You are not alone. Indeed, you are in good company. Some of the most courageous and compassionate women I have ever met are first mothers and grown adoptees who are finding their voices and making efforts to improve things for future generations.

      You are right though – mistakes were made and no one is willing to take responsibility or answer our questions. It is an awfully isolating experience to not have the “Ensign-sanctioned” version of adoption in our lives. We are left with few supports or landmarks to help us navigate our experience. And then, after years of suffering in silence, when we **do** say something about how bad it hurts, we are told we just don’t understand how beautiful adoption really is, or that we had a “bad” adoption experience, or are made to feel somehow inferior, broken, or even unrighteous because our adoption stories don’t follow the dominant cultural rhetoric.

      I would love to connect with you offline and chat about your experience, if you are willing. You can find me on Facebook or leave a comment at my blog and I will get back with you.

  4. I was going to comment here but Melynda said everything that needed to be said. I am a mother that lost my first child to adoption 21 years ago. It was an “open” adoption with pictures and letters. Pictures stopped within 4 years and letters slowed down until my daughter turned 15, when she wanted to write, when she stood up and decided to have a relationship. When my daughter was 17 she became pregnant also. Through a very coercive experience through LDSFS, her adopters, culture and church she placed in 2010 in an open adoption. Since 2010 the adoption has been closed and reopened several times. As long as my daughter tows the happy birthmom line the adoption is opened. When she questions herself about the adoption on her own blog, her own space, the adopters close it. When she points out the coercion the adoption closes. It is sad that still today there is so much coercion.

    I have been involved with several mothers that looked at placing but changed their mind when they received support without the words adoption involved. When mothers are supported, loved, and the obstacles removed more often they will choose parenting. The sacred/mother child bond remains intact. I have even helped a mother that had weeks to change her mind go back and get her son from his adoptive mother, btw the adoptive mother was also single she just had more money and was too old to have children of her own. I helped the new mom to get supplies like blankets, clothes, toys, diapers while her temporary problems were solved. There are many of us who lost our children who didn’t need to and it still happens. Our problems and issues were temporary not permanent. Families were broken up because we were deemed not god enough. This is still happening today.

    1. jeanette, I think I’ve read your daughter’s blog and it is heart-breaking. How awful she can’t even have a space for her own truth and grief without contact with her child being taken from her. This is so wrong. I have a lot of things to say about adoptive parents who close once open adoptions without very legitimate reasons, and none of them are nice.

    2. Jeannette –

      Yes, yes it is still happening today, sadly.

      Just this morning I received word of a new mother with a seven week old child. She wants to raise her son but she is out of work until the beginning of December ( which is only 24 days from now). An adoption agency is working her really hard to get her to surrender before Thanksgiving, giving her the hard sell of “doing what’s best” and that if she were a good mother, she would put her child’s interests ahead of her (implied selfish) desires to parent. In short, they are following NCFA’s protocols to the T. The agency has even had her meet with prospective adoptive couples where she listened to them call her son “their baby.”

      So here we have, in real time, a mother who may be needlessly separated from her baby because she needs some help for the next few weeks. Instead of being offered that support but an organization that claims to be about family preservation, she is being actively courted to terminate her parental rights, thereby redeeming herself and her “poor choices” for getting herself pregnant before she was married (please consult NCFA’s training guide “Birthmother, Good Mother: Her Story of Heroic Redemption” for more information about how this is done).

      Coercion might not be as blatant and in-your-face as it was twenty years ago, but it is most definitely still there.

  5. Melynda, i do not dismiss your experience, nor do i accuse you of untruths. i don’t count your story as any less valid than mine. i am glad that your view was represented here, it’s a story that does you good to tell and that needs to be acknowledged as we progress in adoption. i don’t enjoy giving offense and i’m very distressed that offense was taken. i’m so sorry. you and i have many common hurts. i also grew up in abuse. and though we have different perspectives on it, we both know the pain of loosing a child. having placed in the same era, we both experienced that awful separation of closed adoption and we have had to face the shame and judgement some would put on us, and with little or no venue to be represented or to process this defining experience (though thankfully, i was never encouraged to deny it). i never meant to add any insult to your injury.
    i think it is fair to say though, that you and i have come to different conclusions. i’m happy if i’m incorrect and that you and your comrades CAN give credence to MY choice and can view adoption positively. i’ve encountered many from your school of thought who can’t, i was wrong to lump you in. but i feel from some of the language that you use that you believe my soul-searching, heart-breaking choice was wrong. because i did want him and i was capable of parenting him. i agree emphatically that biology is significant, one of the many reasons open adoption has been found beneficial. having worked in adolescent intervention, i know first hand, as well as having seen the numbers that there are common threads of emotional issues among adopted children. i do not however attribute this to a “primal wound”. i believe it is the result of a total loss of one’s biological connection, not knowing the first chapter of their story, and not having had a birthmom who was able to represent to them that they were not abandoned, unwanted, or unloved, but valued above her own heart. i think also that until very recent years adoptive families were very ill prepared and even misguided by the institution regarding the needs of an adopted child. we are already seeing less of those problems with the reform that has come to adoption.
    i used to say “better”. i don’t anymore. while stats and research do support the advantage of growing up with 2 prepared parents, there are still may variables in each individual situation that could argue better or worse and we can never know what the path not taken would have brought. i do however still say with total confidence that it was “right”. and that is between me, my son, and God. anyone else can say what they may on the matter but to me, there is no argument that could ever compel me to think otherwise and i want you to know, for the same reason, that if you now (and then) feel/felt that adoption was wrong for you, i would never challenge that.
    i also have “questioned whether those who enjoy healthy open adoptions understand those open adoption relationships are born of the decades of grief and loss so many of their first mother sisters and adoptees have endured”. having placed within 3 years of you, i was also one of them. my son added me on FB in April. i have also had the “courage to speak out about the not-so-pleasant aspects of adoption loss.” i have been a very active advocate for open adoption and i NEVER downplay the incredible loss and pain associated with our choice. a person can’t understand adoption if they won’t see the aspect of it that is suffering. i NEVER intended to “dismiss our suffering and loss, to invalidate our lived experiences.”
    i am on your team about open records and open adoption relationships but i think, from your first stipulation, that you and i interpret that “need” differently. what my son needed is different than what your daughter did.
    i think you read some things that i didn’t write, which is easy to do when we are so accustomed to defending ourselves. i may’ve done some of the same as i listened to you and again, inasmuch as i did, i’m genuinely sorry. again, i do validate that you and so many others were wronged and i AM so grateful for the reform that has been borne of so many truly unethical practices, and that i was a beneficiary of the beginnings of that reform. i will say on that note, that while it may’ve been the design of some (and i chose to believe most were well meaning albeit misguided) to introduce open adoption as an additional means of coercion, having read The Spirit of Open Adoption by James Gritter, one of the pioneers and champions of open adoption, that many were in it for the right reasons.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Tamra. As we all know, lots of things can get lost in written communication and our minds can attribute tone or “added words” when none were there. I very much appreciate all the work you have done to improve modern adoption in your own corner of the world and sitting beside you in some of those adoption fights.

  6. First of all, I would like to thank fMh for this podcast. I am an adoptive mother. All three of my children came to us through the miracle of adoption from South Korea. I also want to express my thanks to these two brave and wonderful women, Melynda and Sally, for sharing their stories.

    I am sitting on the other side of adoption – the adoptive Mom. I will never know the pain, anguish, sadness and grief that a birth Mom goes through to make that difficult decision to place their child for adoption. Everyone is different and each adoption decision is unique. No one should dismiss the feelings or decisions that each birth Mom has to make to either parent the child or place for adoption. In our situation, our oldest two children are biological siblings. In 2007, I traveled to South Korea and had the opportunity to spend a few days with their birth Mom. You can see the pain in her face as she spoke of the story of how she had to make that heart wrenching decision to place them for adoption. Besides the pain, you can see the love in her eyes (and heart) for both of her babies. In fact, her parting words to me was to tell her babies “sarang-ha”, which loosley translates into..”I love you”. I am in contact with her, through email and if I could speak Korean, I would call her on the phone. I send pictures of her son and daughter and tell them, in my broken Korean, how they are doing at school. I tell all three of my children that they are very lucky because they have two Mom’s who love them very much – one in Korea and one in America and I consider their Mom’s as part of our family. I do hope one day that I will be able to find the youngest child’s birth Mom.

    As women, we need to stop judging each other for decisions that each of us make in regards to our children. I remember being asked, by Ward members, why would I want to adopt someone else’s child – “don’t you want your REAL children”? I had to break it to them that my children are real and they are mine in every sense of the word. Instead of getting mad, I had to tell myself that people that are uneducated about adoption – some people will learn and others, no matter how hard you try, will never learn!

    Once again, thank you Sally and Melynda for telling your adooption stories – you are my heros!!

    1. Please don’t call as heroes we are humans. Some of us willingly walked to the alter of adoption and others of us were pushed and prodded, every time we tried to escape are hands were tied and we were forced on the alter of adoption. Many of us lost our children and many are still losing their children because of VERY temporary circumstances. I lost my child because I did not have a ring on my hand, that would have changed before my daughter turned 2 years old. I was exactly in the same position with my second child. The only difference was I refused to walk into LDSFS, I swore I would lose everything else before I lost another child to adoption. Sadly the next generation is now split up from his family, blood, and heritage. I have left the church after losing the second generation to adoption. After seeing my daughter preyed upon 3 years ago exactly as I was 21 years ago I realized nothing has changed at all. We might be in a kinder adoption generation than the BSE but all that has been learned is how to manipulate woman better.

      1. Jeannette:

        Humans can be heros and anyone that has to make a decision about placing a child for adoption, is a hero in my book.

        I am sorry for what you and your daughter have been through. It is NOT right that anyone pushes or tricks a woman into placing her child for adoption. The choice to parent or not parent their child should be made by the mother and not by a bishop or LDSFS. For various reasons we did not use LDSFS. Once of the reasons is that I did not trust them and I was sitting on the adoptive mother side of the fence.

        Once again, I am sorry. I hope you can use your knowledge and experiences to warn others and help those that have been wronged.

    2. Thank you, Dawn, for sharing your adoption experience. I often wonder, hearing stories like yours, what it might have taken for your children’s first mother to feel like she could keep her children, rather than send them away to a foreign country. I have no answers for that question, just something that rattles around in my brain some times. Have you ever wondered or explored what it would have taken for her, in her culture, to have done so?

      While I appreciate your heartfelt sentiment in referring to me as a hero, I feel a need to respectfully decline such a title. To call me a hero (and other mothers in crisis who made the decision to place a child for adoption) is to place me on a pedestal, to “other” me with some superhuman power. I am not superhuman, I am a woman just like yourself. I bleed, I suffer, I ache for my children, ones I have borne in my womb and the ones my body will no longer allow me to have (yes, that’s right. Even first mothers struggle with fertility issues – how terribly ironic, isn’t it?).

      The title “hero” disallows the broad continuum of emotions of the mortal experience, which for me includes grieving the loss of my motherhood in ways that may not always follow LDSFS/FSA/the Ensign-endorsed paths. While other first mothers may take comfort in being called a “hero,” I am not one of them. Pedestals have a nasty way of toppling over and I am content to be here with you, in the trenches of life. If you get a chance, you may want to read this article over at adoption.com. The author does a much better job of explaining why some first mothers don’t like being called “heroes.” http://adopting.adoption.com/child/birthmothers-are-not-heros.html

      Thank you again for sharing your story. It is true, your children are REAL children, just as all of their parents – first and adoptive – are REAL parents to them.

      M.

  7. I listened to this podcast on my way to a meeting this afternoon and finished it on my way home. I can’t even begin to tell you how it spoke to me. I was driving down the freeway, literally crying as the emotions washed over me. I can’t speak to what it is like to be a birthparent. I can speak to my experience as an adoptee. Like Sally, I was adopted as a small baby. I was raised in a home with good parents, who tried the very best they could to give me what I needed. I was raised with another adopted siblings, then when my adoptive mother died, I got 5 other siblings. I know beyond a doubt my parents loved me and wanted me more than anything. But even so, there is a hunger to know my birth parents, or at least a little about them.

    I was born over 50 years ago. If you think adoptions were closed 20 years ago, they were even more closed back then. My father recently passed away. I couldn’t really discuss this with him before he dies, as he had alzheimers and a traumatic brain injury. All I have is the court papers declaring the adoption final. Someone once told me I had abandonment issues. I didn’t believe them then, but the older I get the more I realize there is truth to that. I have children and grandchildren. I have accomplished much in the last 50 years. I would like to hope she would be proud of me. But the reality is, I will probably ever know.

    1. Karen, what state were you born in? See if your state for your year of birth had open records. Have you tried a free search angel? If you are on facebook there are a few that do searches for no charge. Most of them are adoptees or first moms.

    2. Karen, I’m so sorry for your pain. I’m glad this podcast resonated with you, which was my ultimate hope. Like Jeanette pointed out there are many ways to search out your birth parents. Search Angels is a wonderful organization and I suggest you try it. There are lots of Facebook groups where you can discuss reunions with other adoptees and birth parents. I wish you the best in your journey and I hope you find out the answers you’re looking for.

  8. I want to put in a positive comment for LDS SS- at least that is what it was called 30 years ago when I relinquished my baby for adoption. I felt no coercion from the LDS office in California that I worked through, no coercion from my bishop or my friends and leaders in our ward. In fact, once I made the decision, the agency spent the next 3 months giving me options, telling me how I could get help to keep the baby, offering other support if I desired it. The adoption agent told me that he wanted me to be very sure that I was doing the right thing for myself and for my child. My bishop and his wife were always there for me, and no pressure to go through with the adoption. It was such a different experience than what others have related.

    I am so sorry for those that have been pressured into giving up their children. I know it was the right thing for both me and for my little child, but even now, 32 years later, I think of her often and hope someday to see her again. I cannot imagine the pain for someone who was coerced into such road.

  9. I’m hesitant to listen to this podcast. I’m an adoptive father. I have had three adoptions through LDSFS and my wife worked there for several years. Our first child was African American placed through LDSFS by the birth parents. For whatever reason, they wanted the child to be placed with white parents and no other adoption agency would work with them. The birth parents were not LDS.
    My other two adoptions were facilitated by LDSFS, but were international adoptions.
    We did have one child the old fashioned way after 20 years of trying. Go fig.
    I don’t know what happens on the other side of adoption. I would hope that people are treated with all the kindness and respect that they deserve. I also realize that there may be some cases where they aren’t. I don’t know how to answer for those that aren’t. Having these children has been one of the most wonderful things in my life. I don’t know how I would handle it if confronted with it being a horrible story on the other side.
    My wife was RS president for some time and assisted with adoptions from that end also. Some of these women were in terrible situations. I just wish that life was more black and white, I guess.

    1. “I just wish that life was more black and white, I guess.”

      Me too, friend, me too. That would make things so much easier, but in all honesty, it was black and white, all or nothing thinking that lead me to relinquish my child for adoption. I wish I had the maturity (or had someone with the maturity) and insight to help me understand that life isn’t black and white, but a rich and nuanced world of shades and tints that is rarely easy to navigate.

      I hope you do listen – I would be very interested in your reaction and response as father’s voices (first or adoptive) are so infrequently heard in adoption conversations.

    2. even if your children’s birthmothers are at peace with their decision and have seen blessings flow from it like myself, they undoubtedly suffered in a way few can understand. no matter the circumstances, when a woman chooses to place for adoption she is choosing to defy her instinct and break her heart, she is choosing to lose a child. i wouldn’t change my choice, it’s the best thing i’ve ever been a part of. but one of the wonderful things about this evolution to open adoption is that parents can see firsthand the sacrifice their family is born of, so they can witness personally to their child that they were precious in all of the hands and hearts that held them, that they came from love to love. and they as parents can value all the more the privilege given.
      i’m glad you wouldn’t want a placement that was the result of unethical and life-devastating practices. we are the fortunate beneficiaries of progress, a progress i see as inspired. the culture and institution has changed in such ways that these practices are far less common.
      i would encourage you and your children to seek out the women who hold the first chapters of your children’s lives. the great majority of reunifications i’ve seen have blessed and brought peace to all parties. at the very least to give your thanx and receive theirs.

  10. Melynda, it seems I have seen some contradicting statements from you:

    “There is no blanket “right” when it comes to adoption . I have said and maintain that “each situation must be evaluated on an individual basis.””

    Super open-minded of you. But I think I read another statement of yours that was incongruous with this idea. Let me see if I can find it. I’m looking through the comment section now. Oh, oh, oh, wait, there it is. It’s the very next sentence. It’s the one where you claim there is a big fat “right” way to do this whole adoption thing:

    “We have a moral imperative do all we can do to preserve the original family of mother and child.”

    Let me tell you, Melynda. There are first parents who WANTED their child and had the MEANS to keep their child, but for their own reasons felt that adoption was right. You are marginalizing those first parents. Have some respect for the mothers who don’t agree that your moral imperative is the right thing.

    And speaking of another portion of the first-parent population you are marginalizing, let’s talk about the small percentage of people who do not want their sealed records open to their children. I think it was quoted as 98 percent of first parents being in favor of open records for their adult children. So you marginalize the 2 percent? Gosh, wasn’t it you who said first parents are some of the most marginalized people in our society? Not only that, but here’s a doozy: the children in my home that I raise, who call me mother, have no right to my privacy. They could think I was their aunt Talulah who was raising them, not their biological mother, and they’d have no right to know any different because my identity is my private property (that whole pesky 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States thing). But you want adopted persons to be an exception to law. And marginalize the 2% while you’re at it.

    And I just have to get this off my chest. The vast majority of mothers who choose adoption WANT their child. That’s not the question. Of course they want their child. And you think we should do all we can so mothers in that situation can keep their child. Here’s something that the 18-year-old Sally demonstrated throughout the entire podcast: sometimes mothers who want their child put their child’s well-being ahead of their own. It’s called selflessness. Something Sally learned without a PhD and exuded in every sentence she uttered. But you couldn’t hear her because you were too busy mentioning your PhD.

    1. Kristin,

      I’m not Melynda, but I’m going to respond anyway.

      First of all, I have to wonder why so much of your anger is directed at Melynda? I asked Melynda to be on this podcast so I feel protective of her since she agreed to be brave enough to share her story knowing that what she was saying was not going to be popular. What do you, Kristin, have to gain from trying to attack her and discredit her? One of the reasons why I asked her to be on this podcast is because so often when she dares to share her story she is told to shut up and it’s time we all stop doing this to each other.

      You said:

      Melynda, it seems I have seen some contradicting statements from you:

      “There is no blanket “right” when it comes to adoption . I have said and maintain that “each situation must be evaluated on an individual basis.””

      Super open-minded of you. But I think I read another statement of yours that was incongruous with this idea. Let me see if I can find it. I’m looking through the comment section now. Oh, oh, oh, wait, there it is. It’s the very next sentence. It’s the one where you claim there is a big fat “right” way to do this whole adoption thing:

      “We have a moral imperative do all we can do to preserve the original family of mother and child.”

      Why the sarcasm, Kristin? I believe Melynda is a very intelligent individual who has the capacity for abstract thought and can believe both of those statements to be true. She can believe that it is in the best interest of children to remain with their family of origin (which, by the way is something the court system of this country believes since family reunification is the first goal when a child is removed from a home and put into foster care) and she can also believe that a woman has the right to make a decision for what is best for her child or that sometimes being raised by a biological mother or father is not in a child’s best interest. She can believe both things can be true because they both are.

      You said:

      Let me tell you, Melynda. There are first parents who WANTED their child and had the MEANS to keep their child, but for their own reasons felt that adoption was right. You are marginalizing those first parents.

      Wrong. To marginalize someone you have power over them and Melynda holds no personal or institutional power over other first mothers. Not once in this podcast did Melynda disparage mothers who placed their children for adoption because they felt it was right. Not once.

      You said:

      Have some respect for the mothers who don’t agree that your moral imperative is the right thing.

      Are you angry because you think Melynda is calling you immoral for making a different decision than her? I don’t believe she believes that. When she talks about “moral imperative” she is speaking to society as a whole and not about individuals. I would ask you to extend Melynda the same respect you are demanding of her.

      You said:

      And speaking of another portion of the first-parent population you are marginalizing, let’s talk about the small percentage of people who do not want their sealed records open to their children. I think it was quoted as 98 percent of first parents being in favor of open records for their adult children. So you marginalize the 2 percent? Gosh, wasn’t it you who said first parents are some of the most marginalized people in our society?

      It was me who brought up the 2 percent of first mothers who opt out of having birth records unsealed and having their identities revealed. This was brought up by me as a point that MOST birth mothers have no problem with records being unsealed. A lot of elderly birth mothers have been waiting their whole lives for this. Melynda never said anything about the 2 percent who wouldn’t want their records unsealed, so whatever accusation you’re trying to make against her fails. And again, Melynda holds no power to systematically marginalize anyone.

      You said:

      Not only that, but here’s a doozy: the children in my home that I raise, who call me mother, have no right to my privacy. They could think I was their aunt Talulah who was raising them, not their biological mother, and they’d have no right to know any different because my identity is my private property (that whole pesky 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States thing). But you want adopted persons to be an exception to law. And marginalize the 2% while you’re at it.

      I have no idea where this comment is coming from. Do you believe it’s okay to lie to children about their origins to protect your privacy? Privacy from what? What would you gain from telling your children that you’re really their Aunt Tallulah? I don’t understand this comment at all. And yes, Melynda and I, and a majority of people, believe that adopted children do have the right to know where they came from. Do you know your origins, Kristin? Do you know who your parents are? Why is okay to deny that to other people?

      You said:

      And I just have to get this off my chest. The vast majority of mothers who choose adoption WANT their child. That’s not the question.

      No where in the podcast did anyone make the argument that they didn’t.

      You said:

      Of course they want their child. And you think we should do all we can so mothers in that situation can keep their child. Here’s something that the 18-year-old Sally demonstrated throughout the entire podcast: sometimes mothers who want their child put their child’s well-being ahead of their own. It’s called selflessness.

      Melynda believes that the best interest of a child is to remain with their natural parents if that is possible. I don’t see why her belief is selfish. Sally is actually 25 years old and she believes and believed placing her daughter for adoption was in her best interest. Neither of them is wrong. I wonder if you missed the part of the podcast where Melynda pointed out that neither she or Sally is right or wrong, they are just looking at things from a different perspective.

      You said:

      Something Sally learned without a PhD and exuded in every sentence she uttered. But you couldn’t hear her because you were too busy mentioning your PhD.

      Sally has these opinions because she has had a very different experience with adoption than Melynda has had. Melynda only brought up her PhD because I asked her about it. She wasn’t flaunting it around, but I have to ask why that is something you latched on to and are so threatened by it? When I re-listened to the podcast, I shed tears when Melynda talked about questioning herself about whether she traded her daughter for her accomplishments. I was hoping people would hear that and have compassion for her, but I guess in your case I failed.

      Kristin, I’m sorry that what Melynda shared triggered some anger in you. I would hope that if you had something different to share, you could share it without having to attack Melynda and her experience and ideas. Maybe you could listen to it again with an open heart and realize that just because someone has different experiences and feelings as you, it doesn’t minimize your own.

      1. while i know Melynda didn’t directly say that those of us who place babies for adoption don’t want them, i do see where Kristen would’ve felt a need to make that defense. it may just be a matter of semantics, and the phrasing was always subtle, usually leading to a larger point. i wish i could remember in specific. comments like “we need to provide resources for the women who ‘want’ their children, so they can parent”. i know that’s not a direct quote and it certainly isn’t a sentiment i’d disagree with, no one should ever be forced to place their child for adoption because their circumstances leave them no choice. but this kind of wording could easily be inferred as saying that a woman who HAS resources and chooses to place must NOT have wanted their child. i also took issue with what i understood Melinda to be saying in those comments.
        but i do of course agree, Marisa, that we ought to try to see through our hurt feelings to the human we are addressing and address them as we’d want to be addressed. none of us are evil or generally ill-willed and all of us are on some level hurt. if solution and progress are what we seek, even over personal vindication, it will come through listening and understanding AS WELL as putting forth our counter-points and providing different perspectives. I’ve been bullied and treated cruelly on too many occasions by women who view their adoption experience differently that i view mine, and i’m going to assume Kristen and Melinda have as well. it is so very counter-productive. i figure we ought to focus on the principles instead of vilifying the people who interpret them differently.

        1. Thank you for your measured and nuanced comment, Tamra. When I go back and listen to the podcast, I don’t hear Melynda saying that those who choose to play their children for adoption because they feel it is right is because they don’t want their children. Maybe it’s because I know Melynda. I know I didn’t exactly convey the things I wanted to say in exactly the way I wanted to say them either. I find it’s easier to communicate my ideas through writing than speaking.

          I have also witnessed the bullying on the internet from first/birth mothers. I wish it could stop and like you said, focus on the principals. I knew this was going to be a highly controversial and volatile subject to do a podcast on and I am hoping that the conversation can be constructive instead of destructive (like Kristin’s comments).

  11. Risa, it’s very admirable that you’re standing up to your friend, and I would do the same. I know Melynda is a nice person, but what she believes and promotes on her blog (in an equally sarcastic manner at times, not like my own response – albeit with less skill, if I do say so myself) are pernicious to say the least and serve to create the growing dilemma in our country of single mothers raising children in unstable, poverty-stricken homes where the outcomes show the most disparaging results. I cannot support her words, and I refuse to be silent on a matter that is so important.

    You claim that you’re not in a position of power to marginalize anybody, but I contend that your soap box, and others of your same ilk, have had, and continue to have, an influence on policy in government and child-services agencies. Melynda herself, when she erupted at like a feral cat at poor Tamra, takes credit for receiving the brunt of the closed adoptions so that other people could benefit from her sacrifice. The squeaky wheel always gets the grease, and the silent, happy, well-adjusted folks are ignored. I understand that problems that only affect few in numbers should be addressed. Something often not brought to light about open adoptions is what happens when that first mother comes in and out of a child’s life. The child, who never felt abandoned at birth, all of the sudden is seven years old and wondering why their birth mother has abandoned them for the past year. The damage of some open adoptions are never told. The adoptive parents and their child suffer in silence, catering to the whims of a person who can only think of themselves and how adoption has affected them. Memo: It’s not about YOU! It’s about the innocent child. I loved when Sally said she wanted Lily and her adoptive parents (whom she simply referred to as “Lily’s parents” – another sign of her maturity) to have time to themselves to be a family. She was so self-sacrificing – that is what a real mother does. Lily is so lucky to have two of them in her life, who put Lily’s needs above their own desires.

    I really don’t have time to waste my breath any longer here. I wish I did. But experience has shown me that unprincipled, emotion-driven liberals (masquerading as feminists) have about as much understanding as a child (who can’t foresee the long-term consequences of their ideas). And like children, they scream a lot. Unfortunately, policy-makers take them seriously from time to time (or grow weary of the crying and give them what they want simply to shut them up). It’s that, or the policy makers are adult-sized children themselves. It’s a shame, and I’m here to stand against that. I’ve done my duty and bid you goodbye.

    1. Kristin,

      Are you replying to the podcast and the comments here or what you’ve read on Melynda’s blog? Because I don’t think it’s fair to drag into this conversation the pain that Melynda has written about on her blog. You don’t like what she’s written there, comment there.

      Also, I’m not just sticking up for my friend. If you were attacking Sally in the same manner because you didn’t like what she had to say, I would defend her too. I’m also defending my podcast that I moderated. I suppose you wouldn’t be happy unless I only interviewed birth mothers who agreed with you and validated every one of your beliefs. Well, I’m sorry but I felt the obligation to give a more balanced and measured interview.

      And as long as you have nothing to add but insults, blanket statements, and conjecture, I will take you at your word that you are done commenting and it’s no longer worth my time to keep engaging you.

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