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Archive for the ‘adoption’ Category

Adopt an ancestor, enrich yourself

Posted by E on February 5, 2011

There are few things sadder to me than to see the vital documents, precious old photographs, and stacks of correspondence being auctioned off on ebay for profit. Just last week I saw a scuffed, stained porcelain doll that had been in a Jewish ghetto in Belgium, and another that made it through Buchenwald and was stamped as the possession of one Anna Schwarzman. A little girl once loved this doll enough to carry it around with her as she was displaced from her home and homeland.
Often these kind of personal treasures end up in museums, but it’s not always so, and possessions such as these surface frequently on ebay. Everything from old love letters to ID cards, to passports and assorted documents that had been of extreme importance to their owner.

Just last week, a photo of a young girl flanked by two older people, presumably her parents, was listed for an auction. The back of it had a line in Romanian, written in a delicate, cursive script: “So that the memory of this precious beloved day may never be forgotten.”

Surely back on that summer day in 1922, this girl never imagined that someday her precious papers would be on sale to strangers for less than $10 – perhaps she imagined that her own children would keep these items in treasured photo albums. Perhaps she never had children. Perhaps she never made it through the war.
Sometimes I wonder – will the things I love so much, the few remaining items of my childhood, be auctioned off by someone who will never understand their value to me?

Whenever I can, I’ve made it my mandate to rescue lost ancestors. For all intents and purposes I consider myself an orphan, with no family on this continent. The few distant relatives I do have back in my native homeland, a country I left when I was 10, are divided from me by more than an ocean: the barrier of language (my Romanian is terrible), different social norms, differences in how we perceive the world, society in general. I hardly know the people back in Europe, though we share some strands of collective DNA.
So when I’m on ebay and I look into the faces of these people whose names I may never know, I feel a special ache for the dispossessed. In their eyes, I see myself: an orphan collectively building herself a new family, one photograph, one letter, one wartime document at a time.

It started with one piece of paper – I was hunting around for something altogether different, an out-of-print book, when I stumbled upon a listing that captivated me. It was a stateless person document issued in a refugee camp in Austria at the end of WW2.

Stapled to the inside cover was a passport-size photo of an old woman who reminded me of my grandmother. She had the saddest eyes in the world, loaded with anger and pain and possibly defeat. I thought to myself, how would it feel to be 65 years old and be considered “stateless”?
At that age, she should have been warm and comfy in her own home, her meals cooked by a daughter-in-law…but no, she was a displaced person, a widow, someone with the echo of death already playing in her eyes. While people all around her were being selected by immigration committees, Canada, the US and Australia were looking only for young, able-bodied and preferably single persons to emigrate. Serafima would not have been on anybody’s desired list.
Not only did I acquire her documents, but I began to research her story from the few details included on the ID: the name of her birth-village, Labinskaya (changed to Labinsk in modern day) a small Cossack-founded town in the Caucasus Mountains.
Wikipedia told me that between August 1942 and January 1943, Labinskaya was occupied by the German Wehrmacht. The residents had fearlessly fought the enemy, and on January 25, 1943 Stanitsa Labinskaya was liberated from the Nazi occupation. But between that time, thousands of residents had been forced to either flee, or been sent to concentration camps.
Perhaps Serafima’s husband or sons perished in the fighting. One will never know, and a Google and Facebook search does not reveal anyone with her last name or variations thereof. It is possible the name Sadochlin(a) ended with the war.

I wondered why there would be so many Cossack refugees in Austria, and why they were still there after the war had ended, instead of returning to their Russian homes. Then, after another hour of research, I discovered about the Yalta Agreement, and the forced repatriation of Cossacks by the British Army.
Seen as enemies by both Russians and the Brits, the Cossacks who returned to Russia were sent directly to Siberian gulags where they met austere conditions and often death. The ones who refused to get on those trains were beaten and shot to death by the British Army.
In Lienz, Austria, there is a graveyard with some twenty crosses, where more than three hundred Cossacks who refused to return to Stalin’s Russia were instead massacred by the British Forces. I’ll probably never know if Serafima made her way to Camp Kellerberg from the massacre at Lienz, or was transferred there from another displaced persons camp.

The story may very well end here, with her document in my hands, but the memory of this heartbroken woman lives on inside me. I take comfort in knowing that Serafima has now found a person on the other side of the ocean, six decades and a lifetime after the moment that photograph was snapped, who will not allow her name to be forgotten.

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Posted in adoption, family, freedom, history, war, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

How the System Failed Angelica Leslie

Posted by E on June 5, 2008

Everyone listening to the news in Canada and even parts of the US has undoubtedly heard of the little eight-month old baby abandoned in the frozen stairwell of a garage near Leslie Street (hence her new name), bleeding from the nose, on a cold day in February.

Dozens of offers of adoption came in, and that’s not mentioning all of the families already on an adoption list for healthy infants like this one. But what I predicted eventually came to be: instead of the police and CAS releasing the baby for adoption as soon as possible, various delay tactics ensued.

Chalking it up as “for the good of the baby”, the police then went to court to ask for a 1-month postponement to Angelica being released for adoption. “We are so close to solving the case,” they insisted, four months after the baby was thrown away like garbage and no one resurfaced to claim it. “In the long run, she will be better off knowing who her family is. She will know her medical background.”

Bullshit. These kinds of cases go on unreported every day in the Children’s Aid system. Children young enough to benefit from bonding with new families who want them, are being kept deliberately in the foster care system, where they rot unwanted, for the benefit of their delinquent parents.

You can bet that Angelica will not be adopted at this point. Arrests finally came two weeks after the cops found her alleged parents in Kitchener. They had 3 other daughters. Even when cuffed and transported to their jail cells, they denied being the baby’s parents. Only DNA would prove them wrong.

Any good defense lawyer can tell you how this story is going to end. But since none of them are talking, let me tell you:

It will look “good” for the mother to plead that she was abused and abandoned the baby to “save” her. Pleading remorse and wearing a conservative dress always wins brownie points. She will say that her husband suffered from severe gender disappointment at having yet another girl. Etc, etc, etc. And nothing garners more sympathy and a lighter (possibly suspended) sentence than asking for the baby back. Any good lawyer will undoubtedly advise their clients to do just that.

And of course, in the politically-correct days of our liberal social system, a remorseful birth “mother” is always given the benefit of the doubt. So the baby will wait, once again, for a mother to take care of her, while the female who gave birth to her serves out her (likely suspended) sentence.

For the rest of her childhood, Angelica will thrive or rot, as her luck will be, in foster care for a couple of years, after which she will be reunited with her birth mother. She will grow up maladjusted and questioning why she would not have been adopted out to loving families who would love, spoil, nourish and treat her like a daughter should be treated: with care and affection.

Instead, she will live in low-income tenement housing, being resented by her other siblings for making daddy go to jail, and knowing that were it not for the police and the pathetic system which was supposed to protect her, she could have been wanted and loved.
.

Posted in adoption, canada, children, family, gender disappointment, news, ontario, political correctness | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

An Open Letter to a Future Mother

Posted by E on July 6, 2007

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

This entry started off as an answer to a woman who wrote that she wants to adopt, but doubts that she can find an “ethical” adoption agency. I put a lot of thought to her comment, and decided to write a response that I wanted to share with all of you.

Dear Amanda,
You mentioned that you had fears about finding an ethical agency from where you could adopt a child without feeling guilty about potentially “stealing” or “coercing” a birth mother. I want to take this opportunity to put your fears to rest.

I don’t blame you for being guilted into believing that adopting a child is somehow akin to kidnapping. There is a lot of propaganda on the internet where a small group of biased people are determined to compare all adoptions to the underground trafficking of human beings.

I need you to know that you have it wrong when it comes to the idea that expectant mothers are coerced or seduced by money and gifts to “give up” their babies. First and foremost, how can you coerce someone with expensive gifts?
If they are the type of individual who would take jewelry and a trip to Europe (as happened in a real case I’ve heard about) as a thank-you gift, then what kind of person is she to begin with??
Would you take a fur coat and a trip as price for your child?? Not if you are a “mother”.

There are women who want their child to go to a good family, and there are those (yes, they do exist) who will indeed look for profit. But the women who barter their babies to the highest bidder are not “mothers.” They are business women who profit from the pain of infertile couples.

There are – frankly – more cases of that happening, as you can see in the news and shows like 2020 and 48 Hours, than the other way around.
How can the receiving half of the adoption industry (namely the adoptive parents) be unethical and seeing the children as commodities, yet the mothers be victims who were coerced??

It doesn’t work that way. Most of the time, both parties (adoptive parents AND birth mothers) want the best for the children involved.

Yes indeed Amanda, adoption is a legitimate business, with professionals involved, i.e. social workers and lawyers. Calling it a “business” and implying that by definition it’s immoral simply because there are fees exchanged is ridiculous. All legitimate enterprises operate under a business model. Hospitals, schools, etc all are businesses – employing staff, doctors, lawyers. Making a business out of adoption by no means designates adoption as “unethical.”
If it WASN’T for agencies, I would be much more worried about the state of the children.

And by the way, let’s talk about the ethics of covering birth mothers’ expenses. These days, the feelings and emotions of A LOT of infertile couples are being manipulated because of short supply-excessive demand for children. As a result, a lot of people get second mortgages and work their asses off to impress young pregnant women who KNOW they are peddling a “commodity”. So just who is being taken advantage of here?

There are lots of well-meaning people who still see pregnant girls who wish to place their infants for adoption as the same naive waifs pre-1950’s Homes for Unwed Girls scenarios; please realize that in today’s world, the tables have turned. Women are much more educated about their rights. To think less of our capability to make our own judgement is to make us less than what we are: intelligent human beings.

The mothers who want to keep their kids, do – with support from social services, welfare, whatever. And the ones who don’t – get to pick the family they give their infants to. And yes, they do have their expenses covered.

But what is wrong with that? What some might call “selling” a child is to the rest of the world a way to recompense someone for her troubles. I mean, the woman carries the child for 9 months for another couple – why NOT have her expenses covered? Why NOT have extra money for food, or have her rent paid (as so many people have done)? Why NOT make her life as comfortable as possible?
If that is “selling”, then take it up with those birth mothers! They did after all agree to those conditions and accepted payment for their expenses. I somehow don’t think they see themselves as selling their children. Yet if they do, then they could hardly be regarded as “fit” mothers, can they?

In a perfect world, children would be WANTED, pure and simple. REGARDLESS of whether they were carried in a different person’s stomach for nine months.

You mentioned the fact that some adoptions can cost upwards of $30,000, and you couldn’t understand how that could be – unless there was something morally reprehensible about it. Or involved the sale of white children only.
So to address that query – the $30,000 fee is not just for white children. It’s for healthy children. People adopting Asian, Hispanic, Black or Bi-racial kids from overseas have had to pay that much, and sometimes more to adopt healthy infants.
Yes, fees would be much less if kids from foster care were adopted – but often they are not up for adoption, they are older, disabled, or have been traumatized by abuse and neglect. A lot of a-parents might not be prepared to handle such complexities, and they have read studies that show that bonding is less complicated with infants or very young children.

That’s not to say those children are any less valuable – but unfortunately, people may not have the emotional and monetary resources to care for traumatized kids over the span of a lifetime. I wish all those youngsters would find permanent homes, and in fact I wish the government would offer more incentives and support for people to adopt every child in the system. Perhaps if they felt they were not alone, potential parents might adopt more. As it is, it’s hard emotionally enough to adopt older kids in the “system”, and those efforts are compounded by “angry Adoptees” and other psychologically-scarred people who give a bad rap to all kids still in need of a parent.

Many people who are not adopting tend to confuse what the money is about – most of it has to do with paying social workers’ fees for those home studies, lawyers to process applications, fingerprinting fees, background check fees, psychological assesments – and in the case of internationals, having to fly to the country, stay a minimum number of days, etc etc etc. And then, yes, there are those agencies fees too. But remember, the $30,000 figure represents the ADDED cost at the end of the road. It’s not just the myth of a large envelope being passed under the table.

Certainly there have been some abuses of the process, as in any arena where there are strong feelings involved. Yes, some people have paid adoption brokers above and beyond what the adoption papers state; yes, money has found its way around the legalities of this normally well-regulated system. But those situations were extremes, the minority of cases that contravened the law and were prosecuted when the law caught up.

There have also been cases of birth parents who actively sought out “buyers” for their babies. Whether in the slums of Guatemala City, the villages of rural Romania, or a parking lot in New Jersey, babies have been sold – just as often by brokers as by their own parents.

But to be afraid of adopting because of extremes doesn’t make sense. You can’t judge a legal process like adoption by looking at those who break the law as representatives and ambassadors of that process.

The only country I know of where an envelope full of cash is demanded is China (about $3000). But guess what? Although the Chinese government undoubtedly profits from this “sale” of babies, there are no mothers who are being coerced.
Those mothers abandoned their girls by the roadside, in market stalls or on the orphanage doorstep.
That’s if they didn’t kill them first.

(And please, before someone tells me that the Chinese government created this nightmare of abandoned girls with their one-child policy, let’s not forget that the parents COULD have chosen to keep their daughters as that one child. Nobody held a gun to their head and forced them to throw their baby girl in the trash.)

So you see, Amanda, you can freely let go of your guilt and fears – all you have to ask yourself is: Will I be a loving mother? Will I be able to provide and nourish this child as if it were my own?
If the answer is yes, then welcome to the wonderful world of motherhood.

Posted in adoption, children, china, commentary, family, infertility, letter, life, love, mother, orphanage, parents, personal, pregnancy, surrogate, thoughts | Leave a Comment »

The Red String, and how we are all connected

Posted by E on July 4, 2007

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An ancient Chinese proverb talks of “an invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet. The thread may tangle or stretch but it will never break.”

I believe that everyone you meet, you meet for a reason, and every experience presented to you is a challenge to be learned from. This is not a religious belief but a personal, albeit somewhat spiritual opinion I hold.

I also believe that a parent is not one who carries a child for nine months, but someone who carries a child in their heart for a lifetime. Someone who is there for the smiles and the tears, the temper tantrums, the loss of baby teeth, the first day of school.

Adoptive children and their parents are brought together because they were meant to be together. Because they are on a spiritual level, if not genetically, parent and child. They are connected, not through blood, but through love.

Lately I’ve received some venomous mail from birth mothers who were using the same boring rhetoric about how adoptive parents  are acting “entitled” and “arrogant” about taking “other people’s children” and separating them from their birth families. (Basically suggesting that adoptive parents are legally kidnapping babies from their mothers via a subterranean, demonic ring of evil adoption lawyers).

I was astonished at their accusations. I wanted to say back to them: “Nobody held a gun to your head. You signed the papers. You may have been a teenager, felt pressured, etc, but YOU GAVE UP this child. (Maybe due to social stigma, poverty, depression, or simply not being ready to have a kid). BUT when you did that, the child became SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD.”

I don’t understand how anybody can deny being responsible for giving a child away.  So you didn’t feel that you could be a parent to the baby. Fine. So you went and gave up all rights to him/her. I understand that there were tremenduous emotions involved in that decision, but WHERE ON EARTH do these people come from, to act as if these kids were kidnapped from them at gunpoint???

I wish there was some degree of respect for the people who actually TOOK that parentless child and raised him/her. They didn’t rob a mother of her child. That child didn’t HAVE a mother! Birth parenthood ended when the papers were signed. 

Dismissing a child’s adoptive mother and father (their REAL parents legally, and the only family they have known) as nothing more than arrogant, “entitled” jerks who want nothing better to do than satisfy their sadistic urges to kidnap and mentally torture a child by forcing them to “conform”, is insulting not only to them, but to that child.

Do these birth mothers REALLY think that they are helping their relationships with those adopted children (if and when they’d happen to meet again) or their psychological well-being by expressing such open-faced hostility toward their mom and dad?

Regret, jealousy and rage for having missed the most important milestones in the life of the person you gave birth to ought not to negate or deny the love that this child received from someone else: his or her parents. I would be thankful that someone loved them.

I’m certain that not all birth mothers feel like this – in fact, perhaps only a small fraction have such strong feelings. So before everyone in the adoptee camp freaks out, please remember that this post is about that small margin.

The relationship of parent and child goes so far beyond the nine gestational months spent in a womb. It’s about love, magic, and a connection that is much more than blood type. A red string ties each mother with her baby, even if the child is born thousands of miles away.

Posted in adoption, children, china, commentary, culture, family, ignorance, infertility, korea, love, parents, pregnancy, red string, surrogate, thoughts | 19 Comments »

Gay adoptive parents make great parents :)

Posted by E on June 29, 2007

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Here’s more for all of you who got your feathers in a ruff over my last blog entry on gays and surrogacy. Maybe you can take a “chick” pill 🙂  Don’t delude yourselves by thinking that by calling me names and hurling insults you are making yourselves look any less bigoted or full of internalized hatred.  I’ll chalk it up to your suffering from just a tad bit of homoerotic tension 🙂

UK: Gay flamingos’ adoption joy (Courtesy of The Sun Online, May 21, 2007)

A pair of gay flamingos in the UK have become proud foster parents after taking an abandoned chick under their wings.

Carlos and Fernando had been so desperate to have chicks that they had resorted to stealing eggs to fulfil their unlikely dream of a starting a family at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust in Gloucestershire, reports The Sun newspaper.

But their egg-sitting and hatching skills impressed staff so much that when one of the Greater Flamingo nests was abandoned last week, they were considered the number one choice to ‘adopt’ the chick.

The unhatched egg was taken to an incubator where it was warmed up and monitored.

Hours later a healthy chick hatched, but staff were concerned the duo would not bond with the newborn because the process normally begins when the chicks are ‘calling’ them from inside the egg.

So the chick was carefully placed in an old eggshell, which was taped up and returned to the unsuspecting couple’s empty nest.

The pair were soon seen ‘talking’ to the chick inside the egg and a short time later it hatched for a second time – to be greeted by its loving new foster parents.

WWT spokeswoman Jane Waghorn said: “Fernando and Carlos are a same sex couple who have been known to steal other Flamingos’ eggs by chasing them off their nest because they wanted to rear them themselves.

“They were rather good at sitting on eggs and hatching them so last week, when a nest was abandoned, it seemed like a good idea to make them surrogate parents.”

The pair, who have been together for about six years, can feed their chick without any female help – by producing milk in their throat.

The chick, who is being brought up in a ‘creche’ with 15 other newborns, has been welcomed into the flock, under the watchful eye of its new parents.

Gay flamingos are not particularly rare and enjoy an elevated status with their choice of partner.

“If there aren’t enough females or they don’t hit it off with them, they will pair off with other males,” Ms Waghorn said.

The pair are Greater Flamingos, the most widely dispersed of the six flamingo species, being found in Europe, Asia, Africa and North and South America. The average lifespan is about 30 years.

Posted in adoption, children, gay, lesbian, news, pregnancy, surrogate, thoughts | Comments Off on Gay adoptive parents make great parents :)