Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Like the Tar Heel, the N&O fears that adult adoptees getting their very own personalized true and original birth certificates unsealed and unimpounded from the State of North Carolina will "harm" adoption. It offers compromise:
* Maybe a state-run contact registry for adults (though apparently records access opponents believe these evil databases "could deter potential adoptive parents for fear they would lose the child's love once a birth parent was found.")
*Maybe a way for "birth parents" to reveal "limited information about themselves--their medical histories, for instance, or their land of origin." Land of origin? Yes, in North Carolina, state-mandated forged birth documents just don't change the names of the kid and the parents; they also change the place of the adoptee's birth! Do we need any more than that to tell us that adoption in the US is a witness protection program? That falsified birth certificates are about about secrets, lies, and therapy for insecure adoptive parents? That sealed records prop up the adoption industry?
But here's the clincher:
"Whatever the legislature does, it should promote adoption. A good start would be passage of Governor Easley's proposed tax credit for adoptive parents..."
Obviously, from the POV of the News & Observer, truth and openness in adoption does not promote adoption. This must mean then that sealing and locking up original birth certificates and other identity documents, issuing new forged identity documents, infantalizing and pathologizing adopted adults, barring adopted adults from knowing their own genealogies, and stigmatizing them as the only group of people in the US whose birth records are locked up by the state promotes adoption. Finally somebody fesses up!
By the way, check out BB's Church's latest brilliant blog Bad Binkie Award. I don't want to take BB's thunder other than to say, the UConn Daily Campus, The Daily Tar Heel, and the News & Observer (who referred to us as children and youngsters) should be looking for their awards in the mail. I'll take BB's idea a step further. How about a Bad Binkie coalition? We've all been binkied.
Bleating behind their Yankee co-religionists at UConn (see previous blog) the "editorial board" of the University of North Carolina Daily Tar Heel, in a misnamed editorial, Adopt a New Law, has decided that the clean records access bill (and here) currently under debate in the NC legislature, is "fundamentally unfair to birth mothers." No mention is made that the state's sealed records law in place since the 1940s is "fundamentally unfair" to adopted people. Of course, not. The "editorial board" considers us all perpetual, and petulant children undeserving of being treated the same as the non-adopted--whom Bastardette presumes they are:
In North Carolina, the birth certificates of children given up for adoption are sealed and cannot be retrieved by adopted children later in life....
We sympathize with adopted children...
Adopted children, by searching out their biological parents...
...the state should find other ways to contact birth parents besides releasing their identities to the adopted child.
...If birth parents whose children already have been adopted under the previous law wish to allow their children's birth certificates...
I haven't followed the North Carolina campaign as I should, but I am pretty sure that North Carolina Coalition for Adoption Reform chair Roberta McDonald and her crew aren't stumping the halls of the statehouse begging their cause on medical history grounds,. The Daily Tar Heel 's "editorial board," however, is very hung up on the idea that "medical information" is why adoptees want their records unimpounded. The board suggests that if "health information" is needed, the state should find a way to track down "birth mothers" and wrest family medical histories from them. Yeah, I'm sure a first mom in New Bern would really love getting a call from a bureaucrat in Raleigh asking if she suffers from fibroid tumors.
As to future records access: "The key here is more options and a required family history form to be filled out by the birth parents." Duh? Detailed family histories have been required for decades--even in North Carolina. Unless, of course, the lucky baby gets dumped anonymously into that other option --the safe haven. Then histories aren't important. The baby will just be happy to be alive.
But here's the real fear: if "adopted children" get their birth certificates potentially fewer babies would be available for adoption, "as parents become unwilling to risk the process." So parents who are afraid of exposure will simply keep their kids for everybody to see? Or maybe they'll just kill them.
The next time the Daily Tar Heel "editorial board" decides to expound on adoption I suggest it actually know what it's talking about. Somebody might want to talk to NCAR, the local adoption agency, or any of North Carolina's thousands of first parents and adoptees. I'm sure there's plenty on campus who would love to tell the "editorial board" a thing or two.
And just a suggestion. Learn to write an accurate headline. "Don't Adopt a New Law" or "Keep Adoptees Ignorant" or "Support State Facilitated Stigma." (say that fast 5 times!)
NOTE: Bastardette is a former resident of Jacksonville, NC.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Anyway, the best part of the Daily Campus’s jaunty little editorial, was the board’s paranoiac projection of first moms. Women are weak, ya know!
Abortion loomed: “There are concerns that the knowledge that a mother's identity being revealed may cause potential adoption cases to turn into actual abortion cases.”
It’s a brave act to place a child up for adoption. The courage that act requires should not be increased just so an adopted individual is able to discover his mother’s identity. There are merits to having a system in place which allows a mother to chose to reveal herself or not, yet guarantees access to medical information even without a name. It is unrealistically utopian to require any more than that from a mother whose decision to give up her chide is laudable enough—and the legislature should look to strike a proper balance next time it considers s this proposal.”
I’m broke, but it would be great if one of you first mom’s who got rich when you put your kid up for adoption sent these trogs a copy of The Girls Who Went Away.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
I will continue coverage of the Stephanie Bennett case. For previous posts, please scroll directly below this one.
I'll be away for a few days working on a research project, but I wanted to say a couple things about the Blogging Blitz for Evelyn.
It's been an honor to be part of this historic endeavour. No adoption ideology was required. Bloggers could believe adoption is the best thing since Jif or the worse thing since the Battle of the Marne. One's position in adoption didn't matter: adoptee, first parent, adoptive parent, activist, bystander...just as long as you cared what happens to a family torn asunder by an uncontrolled "child placing" industry. Some blogs were eloquent, some clumsy, some angry, some thoughtful. Some focused on Stephanie and Evelyn Bennett, some on the rot that defines Adoption USA. Some bloggers only posted the timeline; others surfed the 'net in search of new information about A Child' Waiting. The common denominator: outrage and care.
About 135 bloggers participated in the blitz. Origins USA and Third Mom list and link many of them. I haven't read all of the blogs, but I thought I'd share some that resonated with me. In no particular order:
BB Church--BB Church's Funhouse: Return Baby Evelyn to Stephanie Bennett!
But as important as the rightful return of this child to her family may be, this is more than an issue of one woman's struggle against the "bad apple" practices of a non-compliant renegade adoption agency (although it is that), because the disconnection between simple justice and fairness that sits like a bloated toad at the bottom of this case underlies the institution of adoption as it is practiced in the US today.
Fauxclaud--Musings of the Lame: Why Is Stephanie Bennett So Important?
What should be frightening, not just for us in adoptionland that care about reform, that care about morals and ethics and justice, but for ANYONE in the United States that HAS a child, or cares about another person...is that so many abuses and misjustices have occured and NO, the Bennetts have never done anything to deserve ANY of IT! They are just a family in Ohio, trying to live a life, just like you and your family wherever you happen to live are trying to live yours.
Margie--Third Mom: An Open Letter to the Couple Who is Hiding Evelyn Bennett
There is enormous potential for abuse in adoption. Those who may think their adoptions were conducted ethically may find, on deeper investigation, that this isn't the case. And even when the letter of the law is followed, there are basic human rights to consider, which the law unfortunately doesn't always respect. I understand, therefore, that you may feel you've been victimized by this situation, and may therefore believe you have a right to this child...
Do the right thing. Return Evelyn to her mother and grandparents now.
A Voice of Reason--Stephanie's Case: There's is What's Right, What's Wrong, and the Law
This family, the Bennett family, has been torn apart. Not because of abuse, not because of neglect, not for any reason that might warrant the breaking up of a family. No. They’ve been torn apart because Stephanie, alone and in crisis, was pressured into terminating her rights and hiding from her parents. They’ve been torn apart because Stephanie’s baby, little Evelyn, was a valuable commodity for a money-hungry industry, and one agency pressed on Stephanie’s weak points until she cracked… until they got her baby.
Just Enjoy Him--Today is Evelyn Bennett's Birthday: This baby, this little girl, is one-year-old today. Imagine not being there to see your baby turn one-year-old, all because a high school guidance counselor took it upon himself to play God and call an unscrupulous adoption agency into the picture who took advantage of a young girl, who not only didn’t seek the advice of her parents, but advised her to run away from said parents so that her they wouldn’t know that she was relinquishing her baby for adoption. How much more underhanded, greedy, immoral, and corrupt can you get?! Sneaking a baby for profit and gain, and then advising the “adoptive parents” (if the adoption is in fact legal; we know that it’s not ethical) to go into hiding so that Baby Evelyn can’t be found. This agency is clearly staffed by the bottom feeders of society, people who don’t have morals, who don’t have ethics, who don’t care one iota about “the best interests of the child.
Paragraphein--A Child's Waiting, Evelyn Bennett and an Unnecessary Family Breakup--This family, the Bennett family, has been torn apart. Not because of abuse, not because of neglect, not for any reason that might warrant the breaking up of a family. No. They’ve been torn apart because Stephanie, alone and in crisis, was pressured into terminating her rights and hiding from her parents. They’ve been torn apart because Stephanie’s baby, little Evelyn, was a valuable commodity for a money-hungry industry, and one agency pressed on Stephanie’s weak points until she cracked… until they got her baby.
In some ways the Bennett story is our story. Each of us has been affected by an ethically if not legally impaired adoption system. No matter how our individual adoption narratives have played out, even those with the best experiences know well the rot at the root: secrecy, shame, and greed. The deform movement is known for eating itself. That's what the enemy wants. Uniting for the Bennetts is good.--for them and us!
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
STEPHANIE BENNETT VS THE OHIO ADOPTION INDUSTRY 2: I GAVE TO A CHILD'S WAITING AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT!
I will continue coverage of the Stephanie Bennett case. For previous posts, please scroll directly below this one.
One thing you can count on in adoption--hypocrisy is never far from mendacity.
Last month Working Mother Magazine named Stephanie Bennett's adoption agency A Child's Waiting one of the 25 Best Small Companies of 2007. The magazine offers a snapshot of the "family friendly" workplace. You need to check out Akron Beacon Journal business reporter Kerry Clawson's follow-up for the full studio portrait. The place employs 17 women exploiting women, 4 of whom are "single moms"--adoption status unknown. Free on-site nanny care, a toy-filled playroom, baby swings, and a crib room for napping babies. And get this: a private nursing room! Did I mention flex-time, no set hours, and 1-month paid maternity leave? Employees who adopt (who woulda thought?) receive up to $1000 to cover expenses.
It is especially edifying to know that ACW's professional child recruiter Ronda Berger can stick her youngest in the toy room with the nanny while she's on the road bringing home the bacon.
How can the Desperate and Pregnant resist the sales pitch?
Anyway, just when you think you can't take another ACW happy working mom story, reporter Clawson invites the dark spectre of Stephanie Bennett into the workers' paradise. Here's her little chat-up about the Bennett case with ACW co-owner Crissy Koralik, who by the way, according to Clawson, is looking for a little girl to adopt as her very own:
A Child's Waiting was in the news in December and again last month after Stephanie Bennett, 17 and her parents Ranza and Judy Bennett of Canton, fought two counties to regain custody of Stephanie's baby, Evelyn, after the teen had gave up her daughter to A Child's Waiting for adoption.
A Stark County Family Court dismissed one lawsuit in February ruling that the teen had knowingly and voluntarily signed papers surrendering her daughter to the adoption agency. No ruling has been made on the second case which was heard last week by Magistrate Diana Stevenson in Summit County Court.
Evelyn is now 11 months old and has been placed with an adoptive family.
The teen had accused A Child's Waiting of encouraging her to run away so she could more easily sign the adoption papers without her parents knowledge.
"The allegation is ridiculous," Bessemer-Koralik said. "That's not something we would ever condone especially for a minor."
"Of course, our heart goes out to the birth family. A Child's Waiting always has the best interest of the child in mind."
Bessemer-Koralik said this is the first custody dispute the agency has experienced in its seven years.
Of course, it's ridiculous, Crissy! We know ACW's heart goes out to the Bennetts. Just like its hand goes out to the billfolds of adopters.
ACW feels the Bennetts' pain. And we know ACW wants to stop it for both your sakes. Unhappily, taking 2 aspirin before you go to bed and calling Bastardette in the morning, won't make that pain go away. Help, however, is close at hand. Your hands! Fess up! Tell the court to send Evelyn home to her mom and grandparents. The Bennetts' pain will dissolve instantly. But since this is all about you, and I know that's what you're really worried about, let me give you a little advice. At first you may occasionally feel a waft of remorse or loss or loneliness, but remember--you did the right thing! A selfless act of compassion and love. Someday soon you'll forget all about Evelyn and the Bennett family and the adoptive folks whose lives you've ruined. You'll move on with your life as if nothing happened. You' ll have a clean slate. You've done it before.
Huzzah to Kerry Clawson!
To purchase your very own lousy t-shirt and help bring Evelyn home, go here.
A fund to assist the Bennetts has been established at:
123 N. Reed St.,
Malvern, OH 44644
Make checks payable to "Send Evelyn Home"
and they will be deposited into the correct account.
Monday, April 16, 2007
That said, since the story broke at the end of 2006 that “Baby Evelyn” had been spirited away to the ethically impaired A Child’s Waiting adoption mill, I’ve been very concerned about Stephanie Bennett. Since the Bennetts live in my hometown, Canton, Ohio, I’ve taken a personal interest in the case, though I never got around to writing about it. Certainly mistakes were made all around, and as the facts of the case emerge, these mistakes loom large in ways I never expected. Nonetheless, nobody deserves to lose their child or grandchild over those mistakes. Horrible things have been done to Stephanie Bennett and her family in the name of adoption. These wrongs need exposed and righted. Evelyn needs to come home.
When I read that A Child’s Waiting worked this slight-of-hand trick, I knew it was trouble. ACW is one of those adoption agencies that meet with eye-rolls amongst Ohio adoption reformers. I first heard about ACW in 2004 when the agency offered up a pregnant teen and her as-yet born child to the notorious 20/20 Barbara Walters, Be My Baby lottery. To refresh your memory, a teenage girl “in trouble” was followed around by 20/20 cameras while she decided which of 3 pap (prospectives adoptive parents) contestants...I mean couples... she’d choose to give her kid to at the end of the show.
Now, a lot of media adoption stunts don’t bother me. Although others cringe, I love adoption reunion shows. I see nothing wrong with the latest liberal bete noir The Robinsons. Remember Who’s Your Daddy? (Bastardette 7/25/02--scroll down) which all of AdoptionLand turned purple over except Bastard Nation, Ron Morgan, and Lorraine Dusky? Be My Baby, though, was quite another story. In a rare moment of “agreement” Bastard Nation, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and the National Council for Adoption condemned the show. BN christened it Bowling for Babies. EBD called it “tainted by faulty stereotypes and problematic practices.” NCFA compared it to The Bachelorette. Private and public Internet adoption boards and forums, and the ABC discussion board lit up. The press smelled red meat. Pre-broadcast publicity was so bad that ABC is suspected of re-editing the show (and certainly the promo) to tone it down. How dare we not get a kick from bread and circus baybee auction? ACW’s involvement in the show, of course, was not about drumming up business. No...“It is a thoughtful report on the process of open adoption that we think will be of interest to the American people,” ACW told Fox News. It was “educational.” Just like this is “educational” too, I bet!
Later I learned more about ACW. The agency was (surprise!) not a benevolent non-profit but a for-profit limited liability corporation with a bad rep. It had been involved in several questionable adoption cases including some documented by Dan and Elizabeth Case in their own personal and painful adoption horror story, Beware of BBAS!: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (see the Hyer and Ponish stories). ACW conducted the Gerald and Bonnie Hyer home study for the adoption of their daughter Kelsey from Russia. Gerald was later convicted of felonious assault and child abuse for severing Kelsey’s spine and paralyzing her for life; Bonnie, for evidence tampering and permitting child abuse. In 2001, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, ACW was involved in the placement of a child in the home of Michael and Sharen Gravelle, convicted in 2006 of child abuse for caging at least 8 of their 11 special needs adopted children in their basement. "We had no reason to believe they [the Gravelles] would do anything inappropriate,” said Crissy Kolarik from ACW. “I have nothing negative to say about the family" Allegedly, the state has investigated additional complaints about the agency, but I don’t have those complaints and can’t verify. Relevant to the Bennetts, though, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, in an investigation dated December 27, 2006, determined that ACW was out of compliance in Evelyn’s placement. I have a copy of that document. Corrections by the agency are pending.
THE DONE DEAL
100 years ago the “cadet” played an important role in prostitution. He recruited naive women, often without family or social support and unfamiliar with urban life, into the business, through promises of respectable work or even marriage. ACW lists a similar job on its roster: child recruiter. Unhappily, no job description is posted. The term, however, conjures up visions of trench-coated, slouch-hatted adoption agents trolling high schools, universities, malls, shelters, and Starbucks ferreting out young pregnant women, socially isolated, maybe poor, and uninformed about ethical pregnancy plans or just plain confused or scared for their future. The myth of benevolent win-win adoption runs deep. Figures of trust—school counselors, clergy, for example-- often just as naive about the lifelong implications of uninformed adoption-- seem all too happy to collude with Ms. Whiplash when she approaches them to sell her wares.
This is the wolf nest into which Stephanie Bennett was led on September 8, 2006 by her GlenOak High School guidance counselor Thomas Saltsman. Neither Saltsman nor GlenOak High School is talking. Stephanie says that when she went to him to discuss a class change, the discussion turned to 5-month old Evelyn, who her parents were caring for while she was at school. She says, though I’m unclear if she told this to Saltsman that day, that the baby’s father had made a series of threats against Stephanie and her family warning her to “get rid of the baby” and she was afraid. Saltsman, according to her account, simply reached into a drawer pulled out an ACW brochure, and the deed was in motion. The next day the ACW agent appeared at the school and with allegedly no counseling, no independent legal advice, and no family discussion, Stephanie signed preliminary surrender papers. Saltsman witnessed her signature. Stephanie says now that she felt trapped, and didn’t know that she could have refused to complete the process. Four days later, Stephanie, upon the advice of ACW, she says, ran away from home with Evelyn in the middle of the night to complete the adoption “plan” and turn Evelyn over to ACW. Stephanie was 17 and a minor under Ohio law. Her parents, Judy and Ranza Bennett, knowing none of the back story, called the police when she went missing. Stephanie’s picture appeared on the Ohio Attorney General’s missing children page. If ACW did indeed encourage her to run away, it could in my opinion, be charged with interference of custody. And hopefully, more.
Schools are not supposed to tear families apart. Why was adoption surrender, especially of a much-loved 5-month old baby living with her mother and in extended family care, considered a normal day’s work?
I must sound like an old nanny goat, but what in the world was Saltsman thinking? I cannot imagine my own guidance counselor, the onerous Helen Gatchell at Lincoln High School, taking a task of such importance upon herself. She told girls that they shouldn’t continue Spanish, or reprimanded them for their slutty tight skirts, or helped them choose a career or college path-- but “arranging” a fast track surrender and adoption without counseling or legal advice? She probably would have stuck thumb tacks in her eyes rather than commit such a stupid, unethical act.
Stephanie is certainly allowed to make her own informed decision regarding the adoption of Evelyn. She should be allowed to do that. But how legal or ethical or educated is a decision of such magnitude when those who hold the information for right decision-making purposefully withhold that information?
We expect bad behavior from A Child’s Waiting. Saltsman is another story. He is a public employee. His job is to facilitate reasoned discussion, ethical treatment of students and their families, and principled decision making--not to break up families. That he didn’t even pretend to encourage much less require genuine family communication and counseling, real family preservation and adoption counseling, and legitimate legal assistance boggles the mind. Maybe it was late in the afternoon and he and Ms. Whiplash wanted to hit John’s Bar.
I have looked at ethical standards for school counselors. They are general and up to interpretation. Saltsman may hover in a gray area and I wouldn’t be surprised if a compliant Plain Township Board of Education covers his ass, since they’re trying to get a levy passed next month. The Canton Repository, for unknown reasons, has not covered the Bennett case. As the levy approaches, how happy would Plain Township parents and grandparents be to know that their money was going towards stealing babies and students away in the middle of the night and breaking up families?
In October 2006, Stephanie’s parents were granted temporary custody of Evelyn, but the order was overturned. Stephanie has a new lawyer and has filed to revoke her surrender. She will have to prove mistake, fraud, duress, undue influence, pre-journalization, or misrepresentation. From the looks of it, she may be able to do some of that. No hearing date is set.
THE RIGHT THING
Adoption is supposed to be for children who need families. Evelyn has one waiting for her At home.
I have no doubt that Evelyn’s paps love her and hope to finalize her adoption. ACW’s has reportedly told them hold tight.
I have never understood why anyone would hold tight to a child that is not theirs when that child, absent abuse or neglect, is dearly loved and wanted by her or his natural family and belongs with them. As an adoptee, and as a human being, I would not have the nerve— nor the bad morals—to keep that child away from its natural family. Evelyn was thrown into the adoption mill due to the negligence and greed of others and out of fear. She and her family should not be separated and eternally punished for that. Doing the right thing will painful. Evelyn’s paps should listen to their hearts, not an adoption agency with bad mojo who only wants their money. They should send her home.
Ohio is fast becoming the new Florida. The new New Jersey. Its foster care and adoption programs are in disarray. A week seldom passes without some new tale of incompetence, malfeasance, or even death. Russian adoptees Liam Thompson (Columbus) and Maria Bennett (Lancaster—no relation to Stephanie) were murdered by their adoptive parents; Kelsey Hyer (Akron) was paralyzed for life by her adoptive parents. Michael and Sharon Gravelle (Huron County) were convicted of child abuse for keeping most of their 11 special needs adopted children in cages and physically abusing them. In August 2006, Liz and Michael Carroll (Cincinnati) were charged with murder after they bound their developmentally disabled 3-year old foster child, Marcus Feisel, in a blanket with strapping tape and left him in a closet for 3 days when they went out of town. They found him dead when they returned; removed the body to rural Brown county, and incinerated it. They were sentenced to life and 16 years- life respectively for murder.
Ohio needs to clean up its private and public child welfare system. It needs to investigate every county children services and every private adoption agency starting with A Child’s Waiting.
She needs to come home. Now!
Saturday, April 14, 2007
You'll be hearing more about the case in the next day or so, but in the meantime, here's the nutshell:
When Evelyn Bennett was 5 months old, her mother Stephanie Bennett signed adoption surrender documents during the second meeting with a representative of the Akron-based A Child's Waiting counselor at Glen Oak High School where she was a student. Stephanie, 17 at the time, says she was advised by the adoption agency representative to run away from home and sign documents in another county because it would be easier to sign the paperwork out of sight of her parents. She received no viable counseling. Stephanie had been introduced to an agency representative the day before by David Saltsman, a guidance Ranza and Judy Bennett, who were providing care for Evelyn while Stephanie attended school, were unaware that Evelyn had been turned over to A Child's Waiting until the deal was done. In fact, when they went missing, the Bennetts called the police. Within hours of the signing, Stephanie regretted her decision.
Stephanie Bennett's parents went to court in Stark County and were awarded temporary custody of their grandchild, Evelyn. When the couple went to the agency with a police escort to take custody, the agency refused to return the baby or even say where she was located. Stephanie and her parents brought separate suits in Stark and Summit Counties to regain custody. On February 2, 2007 the Stark County Family Court dismissed Ranza and Judy's suit saying that Stephanie had signed surrender papers "knowingly and voluntarily." Stephanie's suit in Summit County is pending.
On Sunday, April 15, Stephanie and her mother Judy will appear in a live stream broadcast of The Adoption Show hosted Michelle Edmonds. Afterward, the show will be available online for download. According to a press release, "the interview will break the codes of silence and gag orders imposed upon the family, while showing that this story is more tragic than even previously known."
Following the broadcast Origins USA will sponsor a Blogger Blitz to send Evelyn Home. AdoptaBloggers all over North America (and hopefully the world), will blog to increase media and public awareness of the tactics used to obtain Evelyn and to gain support for her return. Bloggers will write about the case from their own perspective. No specific adoption ideology is required (my dust-up last year with OUSA is well-known) to join The Blitz--only a desire to expose and overturn a grave injustice and to see Evelyn back where she belongs. If you're not a blogger but would like to get the media involved--especially if you live in Ohio--contact your local newspaper and ask them to assign a reporter to the story.
Bastardette is happy to be a part of this unprecedented AdoptaBlogger event: the Blogger Blitz to return Evelyn Bennett to her mother and family. I hope you will join me.
For more information go to Origins USA . If you want to blog for Evelyn and Stephanie, contact and other information on how to do it will be there.
*The article is no longer online at the Beacon Journal, but after I posted this originally I found a copy of it here.
Friday, April 13, 2007
The Baby Thief : the Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller who Corrupted Adoption by Barbara Bisanz Raymond will hit the stands on May 5. And oh what a book it is!
I've known about this book and its various incarnations for a long time. In 2001 Barbara sent me an early draft. Unfortunately, this was around the time of my prolonged stay in Eugene and I didn't follow up on it like I should have. I am happy to say, though, that Barbara did, and the result is a fascinating but sickening account of how adoption got to where it is today.
For those of you who aren't familiar to Georgia Tann, she was a baby thief who worked her evil with the full knowledge of courts, social workers, and politicians. Between 1924 and 1950 she arranged 5000 "adoptions"--many of them of children she'd kidnapped or obtained by other illegal or unethical means. Tann stole from the poor to sell to the rich. Sometimes she just gave babies away to the child-hungry denizens of Tennessee's power structure, all too happy to turn their backs on justice in order to fill their nurseries with undocumented children to call their own. As part of Boss Crump's Memphis machine Tann's political influence in Tennessee was immense and unheard of for a woman, even now.
Raymond argues that Georgia Tann invented, popularized and commercialized adoption as we know it today with its secret closed and codified system of identity erasure and falsified birth certificates.
Tann's influence did not end with her death in 1950. It is carried today by the approximate 6 million adopted persons and their birth and adoptive families in the US (and more in Canada) whose records remain sealed by the state.
The Baby Thief an important book that every adoptee rights activist, every first mother activist, and anybody who wants to clean up adoption should read and carry with them to the statehouse. Interest, however, should move beyond AdoptionLand and into the areas of women's studies, GLBT studies, child welfare, true crime, and Southern and localized history.
I'll be writing an "official" review of The Baby Thief next month, but in the meantime I urge you all to order a copy now. You won't regret it!
Sunday, April 08, 2007
MISSOURI HB 509
PLEASE FORWARD FREELY!
ATTENTION ALL ADOPTEES WHO LIVE OR WERE BORN IN
Last week the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on HB 509 which restores the right of
Brian Pratt Bryan.Pratt@house.mo.gov
Tim Flook email@example.com
Rachel Bringer Rachel.Bringer@house.mo.gov
John Burnett John.Burnett@house.mo.gov
Connie Johnson Connie.Johnson@house.mo.gov
Tim Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Lipke Scott.Lipke@house.mo.gov
Ray Salva Ray.Salva@house.mo.gov
Jason Smith Jason.Smith@house.mo.gov
Bryan Stevenson Bryan.Stevenson@house.mo.gov
Michael Vogt Michael.Vogt@house.mo.gov
Brian Yates Brian.Yates@house.mo.gov
Bryan.Pratt@house.mo.gov; email@example.com; Rachel.Bringer@house.mo.gov; John.Burnett@house.mo.gov; Connie.Johnson@house.mo.gov;firstname.lastname@example.org;
Scott.Lipke@house.mo.gov; Ray.Salva@house.mo.gov Jason.Smith@house.mo.gov; Bryan.Stevenson@house.mo.gov; Michael.Vogt@house.mo.gov; Brian.Yates@house.mo.gov
SHOW THE SHOW ME STATE
Friday, April 06, 2007
The Maternity Girls have not been far from Bastardette's mind since their spectacular escape from New Hope Maternity Home in January. (See the Daily Bastardette January 18, 19, 24, 2007), We only knew that they made their way to LA, and later MG1 turned herself in. Since then there's been a wall of silence. For all we know MG1 is rotting at Slate Canyon and her baby designated for the L-d-S adoption mill.
Posters on the KSL-TV comment board hope MG2 and her friends "get what they deserve."
We do, too. A happy ending to this sordid tale.
Bastardette's support, best wishes and love to the Girls Who Went Away--a long way!
On an unrelated note, March 21 marked the second anniversary of The Daily Bastardette. I had no idea what to expect when I started. It's been an honor to be part of the Bastard blogosphere which has grown in leaps since that fateful day I wrote Facts Don't Matter. I can't tell you how exciting it is to see so many articulate bastards, adoptees, first mothers, first fathers and adoptive parents come along since then writiing about their adoption experiences and the politics of adoption which, in my opinion, are inseparable. Two years of irritating people--even my AdoptionLand friends--has been "interesting. It's surprising what ticks off people (think the B word).
Remember this: the Culture of Shame wants to keep us quiet, but our voices are heard every day as we write truth to power--and we do make a difference. We can tip the Axis of Evil with our voices, our anger, our friendship, and our solidarity.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
What's that? You've never heard of this new and exciting option the government has created for nice people just like you so you won't have to trouble yourself setting up an ethical adoption plan for that "unwanted baby? Sit back and relax. Fix a cup of lemon camomille. Then, take a few minutes to enjoy this little Safe Haven PSA Video Fest and learn all about your "safe haven" choice. These instructional videos are fun. They're entertaining. They'll make your heart feel as warm as the heart of a pasole pig at the Olympics of Competitive Eating. And at the end of our little festival you'll know just what to do.
We'll start with an overview of the "safe haven" program with a nationally distributed PSA narrated by Emmy award winning actress Patricia Heaton. Heaton (who also opposes stem cell research) will explain how easy the program is and how dumping your baby "legally" is "something everyone can live with."
We then move on to state-specific PSAs. The Quilt, produced by the the New Jersey Department of Youth and Family Services should warm you up. The spot is gentle, non-invasive and reminiscent of feminine hygiene product commercials. And in a way that's what "safe haven" is. You'll walk away pure as the driven snow--your problem solved permanently. Nobody will ever know. The New Jersey message is "Don't abandon your baby"-- just plop it on the counter and walk out. We promise nobody will ask you what in the world you're doing. We trust you. You're a mother.
Now that you've warmed to the comfy idea of leaving your newborn anonymously, you can go on to Baby Safe Haven New England. You'll learn in more detail just how easy it is to "legally" dump your newborn and protect YOUR "confidentiality." You will feel relieved that you've done the right thing.
The first offering in this entertaining New England selection is called Baby Safe Haven Nicole after the young woman who tells us that she has just had a baby. Although she says she had no place to turn for help, she informs us that a nurse advised her of the local safe haven program. Nicole took the plunge and took the baby to an emergency room. Though she hardly seems to have been a danger to her child, she assures us, "If you can't keep your baby, you can keep your baby safe."
The second offering in the New England series, Baby Safe Haven Hotline features a teen couple in a hidden pregnancy--girl with a protruding tummy stuffed into a tight top--calling the BSH-NE hotline. The operator assures her that she has options: "adoption, teen pregnancy programs, and so many other options." Girl and boy are relieved. Now they can sort it out on the privacy of their couch.
Finally, we are treated to Baby Safe Haven Rap, lyrics written, according to the Boston Weekly Dig, by Buyer Advertising, an ad agency in Newton. The high school performers, reportedly unhappy with the script, attempted to fix the lyrics. The agency disagreed. The song is well... "like the Salt N Peppa's "Let's Talk About Sex song...it's the langauge the 18-24 year old demoraphic listens to" said Elyse Effenson from the agency. Boston rapper MC Exposition (right)was offended by the video, too. "I find it extremely patronizing to assume that the types of people who would have to take advantage of this law are also the types of people who listen to, or would be influenced by, hip-hop music,” he told Dig. But, please don't let this criticism by those- in-the-know spoil your PSA enjoyment. According to Massachusetts Dept. of Social Service spokesperson Denise Monteiro, 60% of kids surveyed knew about the campaign, and out of that number 90% understood how "BSH" works. After rappin' with BSH, you will, too!
You should also check out the Caffrey, Cullen, and Noran BSH Rap cover which is much more down with it. After all, Buyer Advertising couldn't dictate their demographics to indies in messy dorm rooms. Nor would they approve of 4 letter F word versions.
Still not convinced that baby dumping is the right choice for you? Our video festival closes with a hard sell series of three PSAs. "Concepted by" (and yes, that's what the press release says) ricther7 , these videos were produced in Hollywood for consumption by Utah moms who have inexplicably slipped by the Mormon ministrations of L-d-S Social Services.
SafeHaven Dumpster and SafeHaven Car are moral tales of redemption through dumping; SafeHaven Phone, is a story of spiritual connection between a "desperate mother" and a passerby child, that turns a moment of fright and fear into a life of hope for the future.
Good ad campaigns often spawn parodies and baby dump ads are no different. As an encore, we encourage you to take a moment to review Kevin Anderton's Spousal Safe Haven. It's the wave of the future. Babies today. Spouses tomorrow. Neighbors next week.
You'll notice that the dump choice is ready-made for killer moms. Since it never occurred to you to murder your baby, you're probably wondering if you qualify for the "safe haven" program. Of course, you do!
This government service is for any parent who just don't know what to do with their newborn. Murderous intent isn't necessary to qualify. A couple weeks ago Lisa Durbin, manager of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Child Safety Branch said that 14 out the state's 15 "safe havened' babies were actually born to women admitted to hospitals and left there. "We didn't expect this law to affect so many women who delivered at a medical facility" What did Durbin expect. Has she never heard of Field of Dreams. Has she never watched a PSA?