Smash the Machine, Win a Prize

This is an angry post; I emailed a friend ranting about this, because I didn’t know whether it was appropriate to talk about it on the blog, but it’s my blog and I don’t want to have places I’m afraid to go herein. In my mind, that’s just a short distance from putting up ads for adoption agencies, and then the inevitable blog death.

There are some obvious problems with the adoption forum I read; recently they’ve started advertising for Sixteen and Pregnant (which I’m comfortable dismissing as exploitative and awful without ever having seen it) in the birthparent sections, for one. And then there was a thread titled “Birthmom is pg again…don’t know what to think,” and I read that and felt rage.  The OP’s child’s birthmother is experiencing a crisis pregnancy six months after the birth of the placed child, and called the adoption attorney who handled that adoption, asking the attorney for options and also asking her not to tell the OP. The attorney’s next call was to the OP, to let her know about the pregnancy/opportunity. Some birth/first mothers did jump in to point at that, wow, this wasn’t the most ethical of moves, and to her credit, the OP agreed (even if she then continued to work with the attorney and benefit from those unethical actions). And then most of the thread just made me want to pick up a hammer and go smash things. Here is my very favorite reply (I’ve cleaned up the grammar but otherwise left it intact):

I haven’t been through this, but I would feel the same as you. I mean, why has she not asked you?? Seriously, wouldn’t she want her bio children being raised together?? I assume my DS’s bmom would ask us first. I would probably say no. I hope to God I am never put in that position but still.

This one charms me at every turn. “How could she not ask me so that I could turn her down and then complain about the position she’d put me in?! God, how selfish of her to not make her crisis pregnancy about me.” —That last, in fact, was an uncomfortably common sentiment. And if this expectant mom who’s made an adoption plan in the past thought that biological ties were the most important thing, you, adoptive mother, wouldn’t be parenting her child, so maybe ease off a little on that particular self-interested point.

One poster mentioned that she’d been in a similar situation, and that she’d gone ahead and asked for the baby, and although her child’s birthmother is now unfortunately parenting this baby, amom has made it clear (to the parenting biological mother) that she’d be happy to take the baby at any time. But don’t worry, this thread has a happy ending: the OP decided to ask for the baby, and the expectant mom has agreed to place with her! Everyone The adoptive parent wins!

You know me, I have nothing against adoptive parents; I know some lovely ones, groovy and ethical people. But they aren’t the adoptive parents on these forums, saying “Wow, I hope she changes her mind and lets you adopt this baby.” It makes total sense to me that the OP would want to adopt the upcoming child under these circumstances, but the sense of entitlement they display makes me want to reach through the screen and shake people. Of course this is all more intense for me because I am in a position similar to that of the birthmom in the original post, and the wicked birthmother who parented—but I don’t think that Ruth and Nora get a vote as to what happens to this child, whether I were to parent, place him or her with another adoptive family, have an abortion,  let my family raise him or her, or send the kid to space to be parented by invisible lizards. They don’t have any claim on the little bird, and the fact that some adoptive parents seem to feel such a claim enrages me.

21 thoughts on “Smash the Machine, Win a Prize

  1. I always always always forget that I live in a happy little bubble where this kind of idiocy would never go down and then I accidentally wander onto the wrong blog or forum and realize how much ugliness there is in the world. We did get a couple of “oh does this mean you’ll get another baby?” when Pennie announced her pregnancy (she got a couple of those, too) and it made me sick. It still makes me sick. I hate that people will define Pennie by Madison’s adoption still instead of understanding that she is a WHOLE PERSON with WHOLE EXPERIENCES and the only thing any can know about her placement of Madison with us is that she placed Madison with us and not who she is or what her character is or what her life is like or ANYTHING!!!

    But why am I preaching to one who knows better than I do about this stuff?

    I hate adoption forums.

  2. It’s frustrating. I know.

    I want so badly to say more – I really do. Just know that my heart goes out to you and everyone else who reads there and has the knife twisted just a little more.

    I’m here if you ever want to talk.

  3. that is absolutely maddening. it makes me want to reach through the screen and shake someone. the sense of entitlement is appalling. those forums are awful.


    Seriously – no matter what topic is discussed, there are ALWAYS closed minded individuals that see only the way a situation will benefit them. There is such a total disregard for other people that its shocking.

    I read your post and what I just could not get past is the fact that the agency told the OP after being specifically asked NOT to! WTF!?! She called for options which to me means not necessarily to place again. It seems to me that telling the family she placed with before was a VERY underhanded move to pressure her to place again. That is just…. shitty! (sorry, your blog & I’m using foul language but the word just seems to fit).

    Arg, it’s all just so infuriating.

  5. To me the real evil-doer in that scenario is the attorney. I can’t figure out a rationale that would make the attorney’s actions at all okay.

    The part about “And if this expectant mom who’s made an adoption plan in the past thought that biological ties were the most important thing, you, adoptive mother, wouldn’t be parenting her child, so maybe ease off a little on that particular self-interested point” though, seems like a damned-if-you-do/damned if you don’t position:

    If an adoptive parent thinks little of bio ties (and therefore sees little value to the child maintaining a relationship with/having info about birthparents/siblings) then they are bad aparents who don’t recognize the elemental significance of the bio family to the adopted child and are downplaying the importance of biofamily for their own selfish reasons…

    but on the other hand if they think having biosiblings raised together is highly desirable because it might ease some of the pain their adopted child could feel at being raised apart from the very-important bio family, they are bad because they are thinking about themselves or their adopted child at the expense of thinking about the birthmom’s freedom to choose the adoptive family for her next child.

    I certainly don’t think adoptive parents are entitled to any or all future placed babies that their child’s birthmother has, but I don’t see how a person can stand in a position of seeing birth ties as both so important that they merit the anguished close reading of every communication and negotiation involved in maintaining relationships with the Ruths and Noras of the world, and at the same time see birth ties as so unimportant that the Ruths and Noras shouldn’t have feelings or preferences about where their child’s siblings will be going.

    I think having anything to do with the attorney who ratted out the birth mom is reprehensible, but I can’t blame the adoptive parents for hoping for the chance to raise their child’s placed siblings.

    • It’s a fair point–but I do think that placing your child for adoption means that you are saying that there are some things more important to the kid than biology. That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing important about biological ties, or nothing valuable, but if I thought biology was the #1 most important thing, I wouldn’t have placed. Similarly, I would be surprised to hear that an adoptive parent thought biology was absolutely the most important thing, since they were choosing to have a family not tied by biology; that doesn’t mean that they don’t think biological ties have some value, but that they aren’t the absolute most important thing to consider when making decisions. After all, adoptive parents decide to disallow visits if they don’t feel that the birth parents are stable (often) because there are things more important than biological ties—the safety of the child, in this case. That doesn’t mean that they have no respect for bioties. But it does make me angry to see the importance of bioties used by adoptive parents to jerk birth parents around (talking about forum people, not you!).

      • Since I always feel like the outlier in this regard, I can’t help but point out that *most* adoptive parents aren’t freely choosing to have a child not tied by biology, they are brought to that choice by infertility. So adoption doesn’t really reflect their feelings about the importance of birth ties so much as their limited options for how to become parents.

        Isn’t that needy position (needing other people’s permission/cooperation in order to become parents) part of what makes the rejection sting so much when they aren’t chosen, and at the same time what makes it feel like a benediction when they are? It’s not that shocking to me that an adoptive parent would react out of hurt when six months after being chosen, the birth mom is placing again but in effect taking that benediction away.

      • I know that “*most* adoptive parents aren’t freely choosing to have a child not tied by biology,” but I’m a big believer in the idea that if you can’t resolve that, if bio ties are still the most important thing to you as a parent, then you shouldn’t adopt. (Easy for me to say, I guess, but there it is.) And everyone in the adoption triad has needs and pain—the woman experiencing a second crisis pregnancy is having a pretty hard time too, I’d imagine, and while I can see having feelings about her decision not to come to you with that information and a new child for you (not Mia you, adoptive mom in the story you), feeling entitled to make that situation about you and be angry at her is where I’d draw the line. And seeing the other adoptive parents who weren’t themselves being rejected condemn the expectant mom is even less understandable to me.

  6. That is so appalling. The language on the forums sounds patronizing. There are a lot of examples out there of people laying claim to women’s reproductive capacity. It’s particularly upsetting when women express entitlement in regard to other women’s bodies or children.

    What upsets me most is the adoption attorney’s actions. If the lawyer had established an attorney-client relationship with the birth mom, this individual would have violated professional ethics and committed an act of legal malpractice by breaching his/her duty of confidentiality to her. If the lawyer handled the adoption on behalf of the agency and/or the OP, then I guess s/he never established an attorney-client relationship with the birth mom. But the birth mom seems to have felt like the lawyer was someone she felt she could speak to confidentially (meaning they had established an atty-client relationship). The possibility that this conduct that feels so unethical may not violate any rules of professional ethics is troubling. It sounds like access to pro bono, independent legal counsel is an area that needs to be expanded.

    So sorry Susie!

    • I think the defense of her actions in the minds of the forum posters was that the adoptive parents are the ones who paid her; therefore they own her loyalty, not the birthparents. Kind of gross.

  7. I don’t have anything to add here, but just wanted to register another “that’s so appalling” comment. I don’t understand how adoptive parents can’t see that being so disrespectful of their children’s original mother is not good for the children, at the very least. Although it would be better still if a-parents–like anyone else–remembered that all of us in the world are, as Dawn said, whole people with whole lives and experiences.

  8. Oh, I totally agree that people shouldn’t adopt if they are hung up on bio-ties, and that no one should make the birth mom’s pregnancy or decision about themselves. Understanding why feelings would be hurt doesn’t mean birth mom should make a different choice; as you say there aren’t any pain-free positions in adoption.

    The problem with forums is that they attract the lowest common denominator because the bad apples drive the more thoughtful people away, IME. I’ve seen posts there like :”Hooray, we’ve been matched with a baby due July 12th–but we don’t have any boy names picked out!!!! Can you all help us find a boy’s name that starts with letter J?” My feeling is that if you can’t find a name that you like without input from fifty random emoticon-bedecked strangers, you shouldn’t be be a parent. But that’s just me!

  9. The needy part certainly explains the wish (but not the entitlement). And I bet that’s true, the sense of rejection.

    That said (I am going to sound really dumb here but I’ll just say it anyway) my first response when a woman is pregnant again, especially so close to that first baby’s birth & is going to opt for adoption again that someone–social worker, health care someone or something–let that pregnant again woman down. Because I really truly doubt *the majority* of women in that situation mean to be. It’s not surrogacy. (And that’s another story…).

    I am sorry you had to read that, experience that. Blech to those kinds of close-minded commenters.

    Hooray to the bird baby whose toys/clothes/food/schedule or lack of one is being figured out under your roof.

  10. I’m sooooo glad you talked about this and got some of it out and off your chest.

    Another thing that irritated me a LOT? The judgement of the birth Mom that didn’t want to place a child with the same family. I won’t place again, but if I HAD to for some God awful reason? I don’t think I’d place with Dee!

    But of course, everyone had their own reasons for her choosing to place with another family. And none of them were noble. She’s shady. She’s scamming. She’s punishing her children.

    At 6 months into AdoptionLand I still had NO CONCEPT of how strong biological ties were/could be. But nooooo, that can’t be the reason!

    I wanted to kiss on the lips the poster that said maybe she didn’t want two kids that close in age raised together – and that it’s her choice as a parent to make!!!

    But I guess I forgot, place once and your thought process is forever questioned. A hero for the decision before placement, a bad decision maker after. You can’t win for losing…

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  12. wow, that’s just disgusting. To realize that the adoptive mother judges this woman so much. It’s sickening. But, honestly, I’ve heard about adoption lawyers doing that before… when a woman gets pregnant and returns to the same lawyer, they will likely call the apars, for that “opportunity”. Disgusting.

  13. Yep, another appalled person here…also gets to me on a pretty personal level because I did have and place two girls. While my two girls weren’t that close together, they were/are about 18 mos apart in age and when my first daughter I placed was turning a year old I was pregnant again. In my case, I did ask the family I placed my first with before I placed my second with another family and they declined because of financial and personal reasons. But in my situation, no one ever told me to ask the first family I placed with or assumed I would place again.

  14. From time to time I consider visiting adoption forums again.

    Then I remember why I left in the first place – threads and situations exactly like the one you descibe, Susie. It’s sad, but utterly unsurprising. Even on boards with very good intentions.

  15. If you announced that you were sending little bird to be raised by invisible lizards I’d feel compelled to offer you assvice about that….

    Seriously, I am apalled at this thread of which you speak. My hubby did joke with our daughter’s birthmom when she said our kid was doing something because she wanted a baby sibling, and hubby asked “are you carrying it” – we all got a good laugh when she said “I am NEVER doing THAT again” But we have really started being able to talk about all the hard stuff, and I am no Nora.

  16. Wow, based on the adoptive parent’s comments you posted from the discussion board I am embarrassed to be an adoptive parent. I had hoped that the upswing in open adoptions would mean that all of us in the adoption triangle would become more accepting and understanding of each other’s feelings and roles. Apparently there are still several bad apples out there sullying the reputation of adoptive parents, though. I hate stuff like this that just enlarges the casm between both sets of parents. We need to be bridging that gap not enlarging it… grrrr.

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