News Ticker

“Talk With Us About…Working for the National Council For Adoption (NCFA),” Featuring Nicole Callahan

Did you know that there are a number of adoptees who work for the National Council For Adoption (NCFA)?  Interesting, right?  So, we here at Land of Gazillion Adoptees reached out to Korean adoptee Nicole Callahan, an employee of the notorious NCFA.  An interesting conversation indeed.  Enjoy.

P.S. I have one thing to say to those of you (a handful of “progressive adoptive parents” who only support adoptees when it’s convenient) who are saying right about now, “That Kevin!  He’s giving a lot of airtime to NCFA!  What a traitor…”  What I have to say is this: “In the last few months, folks like Nicole have been more supportive of the adoptee cause than you’ve been in a long time.”

Click on the “play” button to listen (7:44):

Relevant links:

www.adoptioncouncil.org/who-we-are/ncfa-staff.html

cyndilauper.com

www.grimesmusic.com

103 Comments on “Talk With Us About…Working for the National Council For Adoption (NCFA),” Featuring Nicole Callahan

  1. I believe Ms. Callahan when she says she does not know why there is such a disconnect between adult adoptees and the NCFA. I think with the newer employees and leadership at the NCFA, especially as far as adult adoptees are concerned, there is room for improvement and change in the organization’s policy statements.

    I can only speak for myself but there are many reasons for the disconnect.

    –The NCFA wants to have a say on policy issues surrounding adult adoptees but has yet to add us to their mission statement.

    –While trying to hold onto two trains moving in the opposite direction–(1) claiming to care about adult adoptees and (2) claiming adoptees have no fundamental right to equality, they have yet to take a stand on subsequent issues inequality has caused for adoptees. The NCFA doesn’t want us to have equal access to our records but where are they when adoptees can’t get passports? Job security clearances? Driver’s licenses? The government-issued IDs to vote? Where are they when these “OBCs to run for public office” bills are proposed?

    –The NCFA has recently taken an interest and position on adoptee deportation but has yet to be ideologically consistent when it comes to Adoptee Rights. Mr. Johnson has been quoted as saying that paperwork issues when intercountry adult adoptees were children should not negate their citizenship; however, the NCFA has yet to acknowledge that domestic adult adoptees, likewise, had no say in what happened to their own government-issued documentation.

    –Statements made by the organization in the past have simply been hurtful. NCFA leaders have claimed that adoptees want their records for reasons such as hurting their birth parents and “ignoring” the “pleas” of privacy requested by their birth parents. In the past, they’ve also claimed that adoptees just want their records because they don’t understand their adoptive parents are their “real parents.” The list goes on.

    –The NCFA has partnered up with other organizations, who have their own questionable agendas–this in and of itself, to me, is questionable. The NCFA fighting side by side in NJ with the NJ-RTL, the NJSBA, and the NJ-ACLU. Srsly?

    –I will not even get into the most recent NCFA publication regarding records access issues. There is not enough room in the comments section on this blog.

    If I heard correctly, Ms. Callahan is a Washington-born adoptee, yet she grew up in Oregon. As a Washington adoptee born prior to 1993, to get identifying information she had to petition the court and utilize their confidential intermediary. However, had she been born in Oregon, she would have been able to go to the Vital Statistics office and pick up her OBC upon demand–the same as any other person can.

    So, I have to ask,

    Are adoptees born in Washington after 1993 more human than adoptees born prior to 1993?

    Are adoptees in Washington less human, and lesser citizens, than those in Oregon?

    Does the world come to an end in Oregon every time an adoptee accesses their OBC?

    NCFA adult adoptees who have been able to reunite and get access to their records are coming from a place of privilege. These issues can be worked out. But the NCFA has to be willing to budge to make this happen.

    • Thanks for your comment, Amanda. Regarding my own search, maybe it would help to share a bit more info. I didn’t love everything about Washington’s CI system, that’s for sure — speaking only for myself, and not for NCFA here, obviously, I had a hard time finding a CI I felt comfortable with. They all assumed I was making contact because I was ready to hop on a plane and fly to Seattle for an in-person reunion, and several actually said they didn’t want to send a letter for me unless I was “open to reunion.” I was, as it happened, but why was that one of their conditions for helping me?

      Anyway, at the time, for a lot of reasons, it was important to me to go slowly. It was also really important to me to initiate contact and request info/medical history/etc. in a way that was respectful of my birthparents, a way that gave them an option (though it would’ve been painful for me) to refuse to answer. I didn’t have any facts about the circumstances of my adoption; I didn’t know why they’d placed me, if they’d told anyone (as it turned out, they hadn’t — they told everyone, including my sisters, that I had died at birth), and while in general I think the truth is the way to go and it will out eventually, I didn’t think it was my place to say when, where, and how they told the truth to their families, friends, etc. (This is still an issue, even now that I’ve met my birthfather, because he hasn’t told his extended family in Korea about me. Of course a part of me very much wants to go there and meet them as soon as possible, and the other part knows that I have to respect his choices and his readiness to open up that part of his life — which means waiting, at least right now.)

      I don’t know if this makes sense to an outsider — these decisions and emotions are all very personal and individualized wrt the people involved. For my part, because I knew almost nothing about my birth family or why I was placed, I also wanted a way to protect my own identity/privacy in case they were hostile, unstable, etc. I’m not saying I *expected* them to be that way — I just wanted a way to keep my information private till *I* was ready to release it to them. So I was sort of grateful for the CI system, and sort of annoyed by it at the same time. And the search fee seemed unnecessarily high to me.

      Anyway, my birthparents did release their info to me, and I released mine, though almost all the contact then and now has been between me, my sister, and our half-sister. I did not feel more “human” or as if I was worth more than I had been previously, once I had that OBC and my birthparents’ names. I never associated my human worth or equality with getting that info — but I think I now understand why some adoptees feel that way. I wouldn’t want to deny anyone what I’ve experienced, which is why I personally would support any kind of system that would allow birthparents and adoptees to connect and find out about one another (and know as much as birthparents are willing to share before then), as long as there’s a way to opt out if someone (birthparent OR adoptee) doesn’t want some information shared. I’m glad domestic infant adoption is increasingly more open, and that this won’t be an issue for many more recent adoptees and birthparents.

      It took me some years to wrap my head around the idea of searching myself. If I hadn’t found NCFA, I don’t know that I would have searched at all. I’d always had this notion that it was impossible, that I’d never know anything, and that it would say something negative about how I felt about my adoptive parents if I searched. It really wasn’t till I came to NCFA and met other adoptees in large numbers, as well as birthparents and those in open and formerly closed/now open adoptions, that I came to understand what a search would actually involve. Chuck in particular was very supportive when I was just beginning to think about searching, and tried to help me find a CI that I felt comfortable with. I still remember him encouraging me to proceed however I wanted, and trust that when my birthparents heard from me, they’d recognize a daughter they could be proud of. If it wasn’t for the support of people at NCFA, and people I met as a result of my work there, I think it would have taken me a lot longer to get to a point where I could see myself searching.

      Since searching I feel like my life has expanded in incredible ways, especially because of my relationship with my sister — we’ve gotten very close in a short period of time. In other ways, it’s been tough because those illusions I had, things I imagined about my birth family and their reasons for placing me, turned out not to be true. I didn’t feel “given up” before I discovered the circumstances surrounding my own adoption — and sometimes I do now. But I also know their reasons, even if I can’t approve of them, and with my father, anyway, I think there’s room for understanding and a real relationship now.

      Again, I can’t speak for NCFA here (I’m really not its spokesperson at all, so please, everyone, keep that in mind throughout this last paragraph), but I would be very interested in talking and writing about the challenges facing/ injustices committed upon adult adoptees (legal issues, voting requirements, government ID requirements, etc. I had a new birth cert issued after my adoption, which always served the purpose for me, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone). Beyond practical issues, which are important, it’s also important to me personally to educate people about adoption in ways that might not be so easy to hear — and part of that can be through adoptees and birthparents who don’t feel they were well served by adoption, and who should have had better support or different resources or parents who were better educated, etc. It will be hard for some people to hear, but listening to adoptees — both positive and far less positive stories — just shouldn’t be viewed as a threat.

      To be clear, I don’t think any adoptee should *have* to tell her story for the sake of educating non-adoptees. For some adoptees, probably the “safest” places are blogs and websites like LGA, etc. where they feel unconditionally supported and automatically understood, and I get that. But for others who do want to tell other non-adoptees, “This is what it was like for me,” I think it’s good and important. I try to be a part of that when I share my own story. And I don’t pull punches anymore; there are things about my adoption that make me upset, and I tell people about them. There will always be some who may choose to remain ignorant of the diverse experiences of adoptees, but personally, anyway, I don’t feel a need to make it easier for them.

      Thank you for making that point about the mission statement, too! It would probably be more accurate to say “adopted individuals” instead of children. Of course adoptees are part of their “adoptive families,” but saying “adopted individuals” would be more specific.

      For anyone who wants to email me privately about anything at all — you know, as long as you’re not going to call me names — my email address is ncallahan@adoptioncouncil.org.

      • I’m unable to edit the comment above, so I wanted to add that I was obviously kidding about the name-calling; I’m sure none of you would do that. I often forget that I’m not funny, especially in type.

      • Hi Nicole,

        Thank you for your reply.

        I’m sorry, I don’t think I made it very clear what I meant when I talked about being “human.” I was not referring to psychological or emotional benefits of records access. I was referring to the overall human rights dialogue. Whether we are talking about gender, sexual orientation, race, ability, so on and so forth, when a law separates people based on a disenfranchising variable, the law therefore declares one group as “less human” than the other.

        In my birth state, someone who is not adopted can walk into the vital stats office, pay $6, and walk out with their OBC on the same day. I paid over $300 and didn’t get my OBC for months–*only* because I am adopted. I am equally human, as any other person is, as any other person who isn’t adopted is. What is it about being adopted that means I have to be treated so differently? I don’t *feel* less human than others. But my birth state must think I am if they make such nice rules just for me.

        And my birth state is one of the most “progressive” Adoptee Rights states in the U.S. This is truly egregious.

        These issues get tricky because the *right* to access a government document and the *ability* to seek reunion have been so tightly fused together. But they truly are, or should be, separate issues. A birth certificate is a government issued document that is made available to everyone, without acception, unless they are adopted. That’s simply blatant institutional/governmental discrimination. To have another U.S. citizen (i.e. a parent) be able to say “yes” or “no” about whether or not you can have a government document everyone else gets is not fair. I am a mother. I cannot take my sons birth certificate access away from them. My first mother cannot take away her raised sons’ birth certificate access. Why should anyone be able to do it to me just because I am adopted?

        On that same note, not all adoptees who want their records want to reunite. In fact, about 65% of adoptees (step-parent adoptees and foster adoptees) are already very likely to know their original identities and at least one biological parent. Many private adoption adoptees also are already reunited. A recent study of Oregon adoptees showed that not all the adoptees in the sample who accessed thei OBC wanted reunion or to search. Of those within the sample who did, 40% were unsuccessful in searching.

        Confidential intermediaries do not address adoptees’ entitlement to equality. OBC access does not address the needs of those who are seeking reunion.

        We simply cannot mix the two together, which is the mistake the NCFA, and many others, make.

        Thank you for sharing your reunion & information access experience with me. Your narrative is a perfect example of why adult adoptees deserve equal treatment. You certainly defy the “unstable” and “inconsiderate” and “slamming down the birth parents doors” adoptee stereotypes. You are an insightful and thoughtful woman who took great care in how you approached accessing your information and contacting your family.

        Yet some intermediary has more entitlement to look through your information than you do and decide if you are worthy of your own information or not? I say no! That’s your info! Intermediaries, as optional resources, can be great for help with reuniting. But to be the gatekeepers of information that belongs to you as if being adopted makes you some unstable and pressumably untrusthworthy person? That simply was not fair to you at all.

        Both of the CI systems you and I use fall under what is called an “active mutual consent” which the NCFA thus far does not even advocate for. To my knowledge, they’ve traditionally agreed with passive mutual consent. This means that the adoptee registers and the first parent registers, and if there is a match, both parties are contacted. The passive mutual consent registry in New York has a 98% match-failure rating. Could you imagine if this is what was in place in Washington? You’d likely still be waiting for your information to this day.

        You should have had the same access to your OBC as all others receive AND have the option of using a knowledgeble and competent CI as a resource for search and reunion. This addresses the equality entitlement of adoptees and the “search and contact” concerns the NCFA claims it has. Yet there’s no budging. There needs to be. The adoptees who work for the NCFA need to realize what the “you can’t have access to the same paper everyone else gets because you’re adopted” position says about what it means to be adopted.

      • as yet another addendum…I have very mixed feelings about the CI system. When I decided to make use of Washington state’s system, I knew that NCFA generally approved of CI systems, but we hadn’t yet written anything about them. I don’t think they’re perfect. From a search/reunion standpoint (which I know is separate from the OBC issue), I feel like there’s no one option that would be perfect for everyone.

      • Equality is always perfect for everyone, Nicole.

        Always 🙂

  2. Thanks to Kevin for giving Nicole a chance to participate and tell part of her story. NCFA really does value the varying points of view of adoptees, and we have many adoptees as well as birthparents and adoptive parents on both our national staff and board of directors.

    The only thing that I’d add is in response to Kevin’s comment about NCFA’s relationship with adoptees. I don’t think our relationship with most adoptees is negative, only with some adoptees – and we are trying to change that. Nicole and I can’t speak for those who were at NCFA years ago, but it’s possible that in the past, there was a tendency to disagree with the feelings of those adoptees who didn’t feel that they benefited overall from their adoptions since they didn’t speak for the majority – the so-called “angry adoptee.” But even if they do not represent the attitudes of most adoptees, these feelings and experiences are real, and they should not be silenced. On the contrary, when I hear from adoptees, birthparents, or adoptive parents who feel that adoption was not fully beneficial to them, or that they were not well served or supported before, during, or after the process, I ask myself if their situation could have been made better — whether through better education, enhanced support, needed reforms, legislation, better counseling, etc – and engage in that kind of proactive advocacy.

    Kevin, I respect your conclusions about adoption, although I don’t agree fully with them. You have a right to them; they are yours. There are many adoptees who do value their adoptions, and who are also entitled to their own thoughts and opinions about adoption and how adoption should be. I’m trying hard to balance those opinions with yours, along with those of birthparents and adoptive families. I know of no other national adoption organization that has more diverse members of the adoption triad as its supporters and advisors, that tries harder to put children first, avoid a political agenda, and base our conclusions on what research and actual people involved are telling us. Listening to you and all other adoptees is the right thing to do, and is part of my job as well. I’m looking forward to meeting you next week and continuing this dialogue.

    • “NCFA really does value the varying points of view of adoptees, and we have many adoptees as well as birthparents and adoptive parents on both our national staff and board of directors.” With your past 30+ year record of unrelenting dismissal of, and disrespectful discrimination towards adult adoptees’ rights to full, equal and unfettered access to their own personal birth information, and your agency members’ abysmal track record of treating mothers and fathers as mere mindless, soul-less breeders of a product for sale, I have to shake my head in genuine perplexity and wonder how any self-respecting adoptee or parent who lost a child to adoption could have anything to do with your organization. Seriously. Please ask them to come and post here. We are really interested.

    • Years ago? Like 2010? http://joy21.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/chuck-johnson-his-name-lends-itself-to-a-dirty-limerick-does-it-not/

      I spoke with you directly in 2010. You told me you had “never heard of an adoptee who wasn’t deeply satisfied with their adoption experience” I asked you what resources you had for adoptees who may not be. You said, “none”, but if I would give you my address you would “look in my local phone book” as if people were still using phone books in 2010 or I didn’t know how to use google. I got your number, didn’t I?

      We all make mistakes and it is no fun getting caught in a lie, I mean we all need to butter our bread. I am glad that your organization is realizing that you are going to have to address that babies are human. That adoptees are human. It is a new world, we all have to acclimate. I am glad that your organization is interested in moving forward with the times rather than trying to mire the adoptee in shame and disallow them the facts of their own lives. I so look forward to seeing you prove that with your big fat check for the adoptee rights coalition http://www.adopteerightscoalition.com/ and statements of unadulterated support for adoptees having parity with their non-adopted peers.

      I appreciate that like the rest of civilization, You ARE capable of learning and growing. See even the most hateful people can turn their craven hearts, you are inspiring Chuck!

      • Oh p.s. talking points for you since this is so new that you care about adoptees

        1) adoptees deserve parity

        2) discrimination is never justified

        3) The NCFA deeply regrets its promulgation of shame against innocent children who grew to be adults and were damaged deeply by our adherence to shaming them, to the extreme that many of them were rooked into to believing they were “less than” and therefore did not deserve the facts of their own lives.

        4) The NCFA cares deeply about the population they (pretend) to serve, (leave the pretend out because we know you are all about the ducats) We deeply regret the harm we have caused them due to our own greed, wait no wrong, the internet is really fucking with our ability to buy, sell, and shame bastards, the Monster
        experimenthttp://www-psych.stanford.edu/~bigopp/stutter2.html was awesome, who knows what happened to these kids and who gives a shit, they had slut-mothers, wait no… wrong. Okay what about the internet is exposing us for the cockroaches we are, no again wrong! Will I ever get it right, just trying to help here.

        I care so little about adoptee well-being, no how would that look to the Quad A attorneys, I mean neighbors, I mean funders? I mean, “Yes we hate adoptees but who doesn’t” no , awkward… Um, how do you worm your way out of this one Chuck? You are so on the record of saying so much fucked up shit about the people you sell. I am trying to help but just am not clever enough. You dear, thinking about phone books in 2010 are less clever than me. Oh dear! What shall we do?

  3. I agree with Mr. Johnson’s assessment of the NCFA’s past relationships with adult adoptees.

    What I have gathered from my reading is that, historically, the NCFA has addressed Adoptee Rights advocates as a “cottage industry” (actual term used) who do not reflect the sentiments of “most adoptees.” It was within the label of “small but vocal group of people” (also actual term used) that it was claimed we were dissatisfied with our adoptions, didn’t know who our “real parents” are, were “angry adoptees,” and seeking specifically to cause harm to first parents.

    Adult adoptees as a population are grossly under-researched. “Most adoptees” is oversimplifies this issue. We can say “most adoptees don’t feel this way or want this or that.” We could also say “most adoptees” don’t know their OBCs are still out there and can be accessed. “Most adoptees” don’t know about the Adoptee Rights movement or the platforms there are for their voices to be heard. Perhaps “most adoptees” won’t speak out because they don’t want to be called “angry,” “disloyal,” or “dissatisfied” with their adoptions by adoption power-holders?

    Adoptee classification as “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” “happy,” “good adoption,” “bad adoption,” so on and so forth, is irrelevant to Adoptee Rights discourse. No matter what the particular mood of a given adoptee is on a particular day, they are still a human being. They are still U.S. citizens. The overriding concern of those claiming to be concerned should be that these adoptees are treated the same as all others born in the U.S. That we are treated as equal citizens and as humans.

    Feelings and experiences can, and are, written off as “anecdotal evidence.” Let’s expand the framework for adoptee discourse beyond this, please. I have more to contribute than my own personal triumphs and tragedies. I like telling stories, everyone who has ever read my blog can see that. But what I want to talk about this this:

    Less than 1% of first parents have any preference for “anonymity.”

    Most states treat adult adoptees unequally and it needs to be rectified.

    Abortions do not increase and adoptions do not decrease after the enactment of Adoptee Rights legislation.

    Based on studies in the U.S. and abroad, there have been no adverse consequences to giving adult adoptees access to their birth records.

    Research also indicates is common for adoptees to ask about their adoptions, seek reunion, and to express ambivalence within their adoption experiences.

    These are the things I want to talk about. We can say we want to support adult adoptees and listen to their perspectives on important policy issues. Or we can just do it. Let’s do it.

  4. I agree with Amanda. Classifying adult adoptees as either “happy” or “angry” about their adoptions, or adoption in general is a smoke-screen to take the focus off the real issue…the right of every American to own their identity and unfalsified birth record. The fight for adoptee rights mirrors many similarities to the fight for civil rights in this country. It is time for the NCFA to support adoptee rights legislation (unconditional, clean bills) 100% and stop perpetuating the myths. That would prove your assertion that you are serving adoptees and not just adoption. Every adoptee should be guaranteed an accurate original birth certificate. Laws should change to ensure that adoption agencies are not “counseling” mothers in open adoptions (today) to put the names of “matched” adoptive parents on the birth certificate, even at the hospital, before an adoption is finalized. These types of unethical practices are prevalent and need to change.

  5. “NCFA really does value the varying points of view of adoptees, and we have many adoptees as well as birthparents and adoptive parents on both our national staff and board of directors.”

    No you do NOT “value” the varying points of views of adoptees. You continually insult adoptees, adoptive parents and first parents by spouting your NUMBER ONE LIE- that first Mothers were promised “confidentiality” or “anonymity”. There was and is no such thing. Do you even know the history of sealed birth certificates? It seems like you do not. Your disregard for adoptee rights is insulting. You care NOTHING about an adoptee’s right to their OWN PERSONAL INFORMATION or the fact that their civil rights are being violated.

    The right to our own personal information, our own unedited, original birth certificates. This is a right EVERY American and adoptee should have, whether you feel they are “happy” or “angry”. And thanks for another example of how The NCFA stereotypes & discriminates against adoptees by using that little gem.

    What are you afraid of? That Dan Rather will come and do an expose on YOUR organization, like he did with Catholic Charities and other maternity homes & baby brokers from the “Baby Scoop Era”? It is just a matter of time before that happens, Mr. Johnson. The fraud, corruption and coercion in the adoption industry is coming to light for all to see. Those in this industry can only hide for so long. You know as well as I do that this state sanctioned discrimination against adult adoptees is only to protect the corrupt.

    Whether you like it or not, adoptees WILL have their rights, and some day soon. EVERY adoptee. You’re either WITH us 100%, or you’re against us. No compromise, no veto, no intermediaries and no imaginary confidentiality “promise”.

    Get with the program, Chuck, you have a responsibility to do so. If your organization “cares about adoptees”, then do the RIGHT thing for the very people you claim to support, and stop telling lies. Stop protecting the corrupt. Back the unconditional access to an adoptee’s original birth certificate in EVERY state. You can do this- and you will be thanked by millions of adult adoptees, and maybe even your conscience.

  6. Mr Johnson wrote:
    On the contrary, when I hear from adoptees, birthparents, or adoptive parents who feel that adoption was not fully beneficial to them, or that they were not well served or supported before, during, or after the process, I ask myself if their situation could have been made better — whether through better education, enhanced support, needed reforms, legislation, better counseling, etc – and engage in that kind of proactive advocacy.
    _______
    Your organization trains adoption professionals on how to best “counsel” mothers so that separation of mothers and their babies will occur, so to fill the orders of your member organizations for newborn babies. It is most beneficial for mothers and their children to stay together.
    You ask how their situation could have been made better. As in other countries, adoption should only be discussed after a woman delivers HER baby and if possible cares for the baby for six weeks. No money should change hands. The mothers should be given help with employment and child care. Information about the life long consequences of adoption to both mother and child need to be addressed with the mother. If a women still doesn’t want to parent or is a grave threat to her child’s safety, then she could ask the state to select waiting PAP’s from whom she chooses the parents. When adoption agencies, adoption lawyers and all MONEY is removed from adoption the rate of infant adoption in the USA will plummet.

    • Barbara, I am replying here but it’s actually to your comment below as well — for some reason I’m not able to reply to 3-deep comments here. (Something to look at, Kevin!)

      I know it won’t do any good at all for me to say this, as I am not the one who did it to you, but I am deeply sorry for what happened to you, and what you were told. If you’d like to email me w/ more details about the agency president you talked to, I would be curious to find out more. My email address is ncallahan @ adoptioncouncil.org.

      I can only say, again, that NCFA believes no birthmother should ever place under coercion, pressure, duress, etc. And we also know that the issues of grief and loss faced by birthparents AND adoptees are very real, and they don’t end at time of placement. It’s one of many reasons why adoption isn’t a choice everyone can or should make. At least as long as I have been here, we have talked about these issues, written about them, and tried not to dismiss these issues. At the same time, because adoption is a choice that many still make for their children, we believe it is a choice that counselors have to learn to help them with. We know these are difficult issues and we don’t pretend we can address them all perfectly to everybody’s satisfaction, but we do work hard to try and balance what we’re told with research and what we believe is the right thing to do.

      All of these comments seem to be specific to domestic infant adoption — I expected a lot on that, since I spoke about my own domestic adoption in the interview, but it’s only part of what NCFA does. So I’m a little surprised that it’s so completely dominated this discussion, but that’s fine with me — whatever people want to talk about!

      • NCFA is the creator and teacher of the best ways to coerce a pregnant mother to give up her baby. Words mean nothing when their actions prove their main goal is to increase the number of available infants for paying couples. I am a victim of the very counseling the NCFA wants women to be subjected to and it’s beyond insulting for them to claim in any way that they care about First Moms or Adoptees when they are part of the cause for so much of our pain.

        This is not protecting mothers and their unborn children from coercion and manipulation – this is teaching counselors how to best separate them so others may gain from the loss forced onto a mother and her child . . .

        http://www.adoption-truth.com/2012/03/coercion-not-choice.html

      • Nicole wrote:
        NCFA believes no birthmother should ever place under coercion, pressure, duress, etc
        Do you actually believe this, Nicole? What about the reaserch your organization purchased to figure out the right way to council young women to get their babies? Do any of your member agencies have anything on their websites that tell women that their babies will miss them? That they should wait and meet this little person growing inside if them before they “chose” adoption. Do the counselors explain that their problems are temporary but adoption is forever? Look at the websites!
        And no apologies needed about the agency president. He was refreshing. He spoke the truth.

  7. Unfortunately, just recently, the NCFA released a newsletter that did not, in any way, support adoptees being given their equal rights. In fact, there was nothing at all in their publication that stated any kind of encouragement for adoptees to be given full and unrestricted access to their original birth certificates, to end the discrimination against them.

    So I have a hard time believing Mr. Johnson or the NCFA has any concern for my son or any adoptee when it comes to restoring the very rights Mr. Johnson not only enjoys, but probably doesn’t even give a second thought to because he has never had to experience what it is like to be denied those rights.

    The newsletter I mentioned only served to continue the myths of First Mother privacy. Continued to encourage adoptees being denied their basic rights on the false belief that others “feelings” were somehow important enough to deny anyone their equal rights.

    Mr. Johnson and the NCFA is very good at promoting a false face to the public at large while behind the scenes they work hard, create policies and use their power and profits to continue the profitable business that is adoption through teaching counselors the best tactics to coerce and manipulate desperate mothers into giving up their babies all the way to supporting falsified identities for adoptees and denying their personal information that belongs only to them, not to us parents, not to Chuck Johnson and not to the NCFA.

  8. Another very large group of people excluded from the NCFA organization are the mothers and fathers who lost children to adoption. As I have pointed out numerous times in the print media over the past few years, the NCFA definitely does not have a speck of ground to stand on or an ounce of credibility to speak on our behalf. You have to ask – What is their membership, what is their agenda? If it’s not adoptees and not parents of loss, that leaves only adopters and agencies. Their mission is clearly to promote adoptions, their member agencies are notoriously trained and adept at stalking and ensnaring pregnant girls, coercing them to give up their babies, many even spiriting the mothers over state lines and out of reach of fathers. The NCFA receives “commissions” from its member agencies for every child placed. This adoption business promoted by the NCFA is a multi-billion-dollar, unregulated industry which has a huge vested interest in keeping the cloaks of secrecy, lies and confusion around their products. Unfortunately for them, they are just now coming to the realization that these little helpless, voiceless babies grow up, and these shamed, shunned, demoralized and dismissed mothers and fathers are stepping up out of the shadows, and we are all becoming enlightened, knowledgeable, vocal, and eloquent proponents for change. In the case of adoptees, we are demanding, and will accept nothing less than, equal treatment, respect, and rights for all adopted people, the same as non-adopted, to their personal birth information, family history and heritage, and the identity of those to whom they are blood related. In the case of mothers and fathers who have been victims of forced or coerced adoptions (according to conservative estimate, 1.5 million mothers, alone, from the years 1945 to 1972), we demand an official investigation, acknowledgement and apology for the adoption practices of the past 75 years, and a serious overhaul, if not halt to current adoption practices that are couched in lies and shrouded in secrecy.
    Mr. Johnson, we will not go away. We will not sit down and shut up. We are getting stronger by legions every day, and louder. You will hear us roar!
    Priscilla Stone Sharp
    Mothers of Loss (to Adoption)

    • While NCFA has historically had a network of adoption agency members, we also have another category of membership for birthparents, adopted individuals, adoptive families, and others interested in adoption advocacy. It’s true that we try to promote adoption, because we believe that children need families and they are better off when raised within families, as opposed to institutionalized care or foster care — and not all parents are able or willing to parent. NCFA is a nonprofit, so we don’t support adoption as an option because we make money off of it. We support it because we believe it is good for children to have families.

      If a child’s parents ARE able AND willing, they should be given the help and support they need to do it. But speaking for myself, I wouldn’t have had a family if not for adoption. My birthparents weren’t coerced to choose adoption — in fact, the social worker, while inept in some ways, tried to talk them out of it repeatedly — and I cannot think that they were or are alone in that.

      I don’t believe women should ever be pressured in any way to place if it’s not the best decision for them. I understand the need to guard against coercion at all times, and of course women have to make these decisions while living in a society that is still sadly prejudiced in many ways against unmarried parenthood. But I think it’s also dangerous to imply that all birthparents lack the agency and the ability to make up their own minds. The social workers I know who work in adoption are accustomed to people exploring the option, and choosing it or not choosing it — they don’t simply assume that every woman facing unintended pregnancy is going to or should choose adoption. It’s one of the options discussed, but many, many women receive counseling through adoption agency social workers and make a different choice. If we say that all/most women and/or their partners who choose adoption are being “ensnared” and tricked into making adoption plans, that doesn’t seem to be very respectful of them or their choices, or their ability to make up their own minds after weighing all the options. The birthmothers I’ve met don’t seem duped or easily led or lied to. They certainly don’t say it was easy, but they have said they believed it was the best choice for them at the time.

      Which doesn’t mean it’s ever over — adoption is a lifelong process and something that always stays with birthparents, as it has a lifelong impact for adoptees. I know this wasn’t always acknowledged by those who did pressure birthparents into adoption, including their own family members, and I am sorry for past practices and the people they harmed. But something can be very difficult and still be the right decision for someone, even if it’s not the right decision for others.

      There is a lot of work still to do to make sure that adoption is freely chosen and birthparents are respected, empowered, and supported. Other groups work on things like preventing unintended pregnancy, particularly among teens, and we should ALL be involved in helping parents that might be struggling. But while NCFA sees a clear need for reform, education, stricter accountability, etc. — we don’t want the halt of a practice that does find families for many children whose parents either cannot or choose not to parent them.

      Finally, NCFA doesn’t receive a commission for adoption placements. That’s a new one to me! If we did, I don’t think we’d have any member agencies at all.

      • ***If a child’s parents ARE able AND willing, they should be given the help and support they need to do it.***

        Unfortunately NCFA’s own practices and policies do not support this. The training, researched, created and taught by the NCFA is clearly meant to turn a pregnant mother away from parenting. In your own publications, you encourage counselors to push adoption at vulnerable mothers even if they have expressed they want to keep their child. You train counselors to discourage parenting while promoting adoption as the only loving, selfless choice there is to make.

        While I respect and think it took great courage to do this interview and share your story, I find myself unable to believe a single word you say in regards to the NCFA and their beliefs.

        All one needs to do is take the time to truly learn and research the NCFA and they will find their practices and beliefs are in direct contrast with much of what you and Chuck Johnson have claimed here.

        ***I feel I need to just add one more time, this comment is in response to Nicole’s comment about the NCFA and their practices and has nothing to do with her courage to share her story with Kevin or questioning or doubting in any way her own personal experience.***

      • Nicole you seem genuine and I can understand how adoption has worked out pretty well for you. You really needed a family and your adoptive parents were there for you. 
        Adoption didn’t work out well for me. You see I was told that my daughter would be better off without me because I was a single woman. I was guilted into relinquishment. I loved my unborn daughter more than I had ever loved another.  So having been told adoption  was what was best for her I did the unthinkable. 
        Fast forward 29 years. Like you, my daughter contacted me through a confidential intermediary. I jumped at the chance to reunite.  It was glorious but as happens with most mothers the grief that was never allowed to be expressed came out in spades. It’s three years later and I’m still a wreck. From other mothers I know this is the new normal. 
        Anyway I’m telling you all this to set the stage for a conversation I had with the president of one of your largest member adoption agencies. The agency was in the news because they were opening a maternity home for college women. I called and left a message and the president called me back. During the conversation I told him about the intense grief I was experiencing. I asked if he could let the young women know the devestation awaiting them if they go forward with adoption. He responded very honestly. He said that the customers of the agency, the ones that paid the bills, were hopeful adoptive parents. He said he couldn’t do anything to jeopardize the placement of infants. 
        That’s the work of your member agencies. They are working hard for their paying customers.  It’s imperative that they separate mother and child and they will do anything they can to make sure it happens. 

      • Some great points here.

        One thing the NCFA needs to keep in mind is that many of us have had less-than-wonderful experiences with some of their member agencies, who are our adoption agencies. It’s been those agencies jobs to support us and serve us and some of them have failed miserably. I love both of my families. I had a good childhood. My adoption did not “turn out badly” by any means. However, I am extremely dissatisfied with my adoption agency. So are my parents. So is my first mother. Their behavior regarding my adoption in 1985 and again throughout the 2000’s when we all came back into contact with them—it’s been despicable, to say the least.

        My agency is an NCFA member agency. It is clear through my narrative alone that they’ve benefited, as far as my adoption is concerned, from me not having access to my records and by both of my families having little knowledge of each other and no contact between them. Up until I received my adoption file, OBC, and reunion, that is, because of law changes that took place 14 years after my birth. We’ve all put the pieces together–and we’ve shed many tears together over the injustices.

        Even now when I visit my agency’s website or receive their publications, I have concerns about manipulation (and the amount of money they don’t so much as attempt to hide that they spend on their marketing. Millions. Yes. Millions). Religion (one publication suggested pregnant women “need forgiveness”) and the desire to do right by one’s child are strong motivators that can be used to push someone toward a decision the adoption facilitator, the power holder, wants someone to make. The “good mother” campaign, for instance, I find really distasteful. One of my agencies employees/affiliates also has a campaign where they compare first mothers to sheep. I mean, really–SHEEP? (Please tell me the anti-feminist implication of specifically comparing women to that specific animal is not lost here).

        The NCFA can talk about ethics and coercion and corruption in adoption in general terms and say it’s “against” these things. However, what I think would be more effective, and needed, is for the NCFA to *define* what it thinks coercion and corruption are, and hold it as a standard for which agencies can be members and which can’t. I’d like to see the NCFA make that commitment to ending corruption.

  9. Mr. Johnson,

    I believe your assumption that adoptees who feel they should actually have the same unfettered access to their birth certificate the same as any other citizen – cannot possibly also find value from their adoption, which is an assumption that you may wish to rethink. Nor does promoting family preservation mean we cannot see value in our adoption, or reforming horrible adoption laws that take away rights for fathers or ensure the mother is not pressured to sign while still recovering from birth and/or pain medications. My mother had more time during the BSE than what mothers in the same state have today – how on earth is that progress? It is incomprehensible to me that a mother could sign away her rights at 24 or 48 hours after giving birth with no revocation period – makes me cry.

    Seeing as Washington has been brought up – I have read the 1939 Wa adoption law and each subsequent revision through the 70’s – at no point was privacy even a consideration for the “birth” parent – not mentioned once. What was mentioned over and over was that the adopting parents were the ones with the choice to seal the adoption records or not and the sealing was recommended to keep the “public” from viewing the records – not the adoptee, nor the birth parent – the public who had access to court records. I would suggest that the NCFA would be well served to actually research each states adoption laws and subsequent revisions prior to asserting that the law provided confidentiality to “birth” parents. Then you would find out that not only did the laws not promise confidentiality to the mothers, the fathers had absolutely no rights at all to consent or not, they were not notified of any proceedings, or allowed on the original birth certificates until after the BSE period if they were not married to the mother. Assumptions are not the way to promote clarity or make good laws.

    And don’t get me started on the lack of progress regarding education and a process to update family health history that doesn’t end at the time of the adoption.

    Mr. Johnson you would benefit from actually listening to what is wrong with adoption from those who lived the adoption experience first hand and have dealt with the real life impacts – not the adoption agencies that make money from said adoptions.

  10. Apologies for wrong words used – ongoing problem I cannot correct nor recognise until it is too late…

  11. Chuck, by conflating adoptees who are pissed off at NCFA for their advocacy for adoption secrecy and lies with adoptees who have “issues” with their families and adoption, ie. “angry adoptees”, you’re perpetuating the same tired rhetoric of adoptee pathology that Bill Pierce utilized back in the day when I was an adoptee rights activist. I’ll take you at your word that there has been a conscious shift in the institutional culture of NCFA toward validating the experiences of adult adoptees, but marginalizing those adoptees who disagree with your policies by tagging them as “angry” tells me there still some of the old wax in your ears…

    • Sorry Ron, I don’t mean to speak for Chuck here, but that’s why he put the “so-called ‘angry adoptee'” part in quotes. We don’t think that adoptees taking issue with adoption, or their own individual adoptions, can be summed up/dismissed as “angry adoptees.”

      Personally, “angry” isn’t even necessarily a bad thing in my mind, but anyway — the term was in quotes, with the “so-called” part, because it was referring to another’s POV, not Chuck’s. I know there are people who dismiss some adoptees as “angry” ones, but I don’t, and neither does NCFA. Sorry for the lack of clarity.

      • Hi Nicole. You’ll note that I placed “angry adoptees” in closed quotes as well. What I was objecting to was the conflation of adoptees who critique the institution of, and the statutes that create and regulate, adoption with those who feel that, as Chuck put it, “adoption was not beneficial to them”. When I discovered that my state sealed my birth records from me I did not think, “Oh, I feel adoption hasn’t benefited me!”, I thought, literally, “This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard”, and went to work to change the law because I felt it was an egregious violation of the rights of all adoptees in my state (and any state that impedes adoptee access to their own birth records). Perhaps this seems a small point, but I believe it is substantial. One is a personal grievance, the other is a more global political and cultural critique.

      • Ron makes a great point.

        As Dr. Pierce once said “One strong case history is more effective than an inch of research findings.” All it has taken in the past three decades is for the NCFA to make a few, well-placed stereotypical statements about adult adoptees–and it’s successfully thwarted much of 6 decades of work on behalf of Adoptee Rights activists.

        I did not unseal my OBC because I am “dissatisfied” with my adoption. I unsealed it because it’s mine. It’s that simple. No psychoanalysis, speculation, or gaslighting about my intentions needed. Truly.

    • Ron, I’m unable to reply to your comment below — comment nesting beyond three is off here for some reason? — but thanks for clarifying. I do understand that you (and I!) might want info because it’s info directly related to us, not because we’re dissatisfied or angry. It makes total sense. Thanks for your further explanation below.

    • You know, I never met Dr. Pierce, and I joined the org after he left…but it’s occurred to me on more than one occasion that he might not have entirely approved of me. Or maybe we would have talked and argued and he would have seen my POV, who knows. I can imagine the conversations we might have had about my search, for example. However…no matter how instrumental he was at the start of NCFA, he’s not all the organization was or is or will ever be. His opinions are not mine — or Chuck’s for that matter — and I can’t really defend them (don’t have a wish to, frankly).

      • My point in mentioning Dr. Pierce is not to hold you accountable for what he has said. Unfortunately, Dr. Pierce, and his comments, are part of NCFA history. I acknowledge, though, that they are not your words or Mr. Johnson’s.

        However.

        The reason I mention this particular statement is because the NCFA’s lobbying against Adoptee Rights TODAY, still follows his technique. The April 2012 The Advocate is a perfect example of this.

        This issue of the advocate largely misrepresents the “all or nothing” (translation: legal equality for adult adoptees) advocates and treats the desire for equal protection/treatment under the law (translation: 14th Amendment of the US Constitution) as though it is a “radical” concept. Rather than acknowledging the larger picture of this issue, The Advocate article encourages people to look at individual people and stories. A hypothetical mother who doesn’t want her kid to have a birth certificate. A hypothetical adoptee out there who isn’t ready for contact (which has nothing to do with OBC access anyway).

        So long as rights and equality are dependent upon what one person, one “case history,” might hypothetically want, per the NCFA, Adoptee Rights cannot be restored. I mean, that’s really convenient because I don’t remember the last political or personal issue I came across where 100% of all people agreed.

        “One case history is more effective than a stack of research findings”

        The NCFA’s current evocation of their audience to consider hypothetical, individual case histories, discourages people from looking at a bigger, broader picture of the issue.

        The small picture: equality can never be restored because there will always be some person, somewhere, who doesn’t want to treat adoptees equally. Again, convenient.

        The big picture: adoptees are citizens–they should fall under the same laws as all other citizens. We can’t please everyone–but we can do the right thing by treating those connected to adoption no differently than we treat anyone else. Impact of the legislation? Abortion rates do not rise. Adoption rates do not fall. History disproves the current arguments made against access, today. Research both here and abroad determine no ill effects transpiring from equal access. Period.

        The NCFA is still asking us to look at individual “case histories” and asking us to believe that “rights” are something people should vote on and that someone’s equality is negotiable.

        I will never buy that argument. Not for women’s rights, not for marriage equality rights, not for worker’s rights, and absolutely, never, for Adoptee Rights.

    • Well said Mr. Morgan, Mr. Johnson’s patronizing chuckle was not appreciated by this particular woundie.

  12. I’ll believe the NCFA cares about adoptees and supports our equal rights as citizens when they shut the doors and go home. That would be more helpful than anything the organization has ever done in the past.

  13. While I have always been an optimist, and I have stated many times that I am willing to work with just about anyone to fix adoption, as long as the NCFA is what it is: a lobby group paid for by adoption agencies, pro-life agenda, the LDS church and other “professionals’ that profit from the separation of families, I can’t believe in my own optimism. The whole mission statement has to be changed: What IS “a culture of adoption.” and why are you promoting it? Plus the ENTIRE infant adoption awareness program needs to be sacked!

    After that.. Ditto to Amanda. and Peach and Tao and Pris and Jean and Ron and Cassi and Barbara.

    • “Culture of adoption,” to me, means a wider culture that is accepting of adoption, what it means, how it affects people’s lives, how it builds families, etc. It means a general lack of ignorance in wider society about adoption. It means that our laws regulate and support good, ethical adoption policies as a means of helping children find families. It means that birthparents aren’t judged or misunderstood, that adoptees aren’t assailed with ignorant/stereotypical assumptions or questions from a young age and all through their lives, that adoptive parents are seen in a realistic light and equal to a child’s biological parents. It means a lot of other things, too, of course — it’s just what I think of first. And personally speaking, I believe this wider understanding of adoption is worth promoting so that people who are adopted, people who place children for adoption, and people who adopt can all feel safe, accepted, and understood.

      Sorry, this seems a very inadequate/simplified answer…I may try to add to it later on.

      • Nicole ~~ I am sorry to have to say this, but as an old lady who’s been beaten up by the adoption machine and who has seen countless others afflicted with life-long wounds because of adoption, I have to question your youth and naivete in using the phrases “culture of adoption” and “lack of ignorance in wider society” in the same sentence. First of all, the very phrase “culture of adoption” are cringe-causing, extremely hurtful words for thousands upon thousands of us who have been exiled for a lifetime to adoptoland. Secondly, to state that the NCFA has a goal of “support[ing] good ethical adoption policies” juxtaposed with its blatant, stubborn track record of keeping adoption cloaked in secrets, lies, deception, and coercion is, short and simple, talking out of both sides of your mouth. Honestly, I feel somewhat like Dorothy in the Land of Oz here, standing in the Great Hall while the Wizard is shouting, “Pay no heed to the man behind the curtain! Listen to me, the Great Oz…”

      • While I appreciate that you are trying to help re-brand your organization Nicole, the basic stigma facing adoptees is the hostile, shaming act of sealing the facts of an individual’s life from that person. The message your organization actively gives adoptees is that you are not equal to the non-adopted. You are less than. I cited the monster experiment in a previous comment, I wonder what kind of adjective they will come up with for you and your organization as this all comes to light. There is no stopping it.
        So you take a child that has been harmed, traumatized, etc., lacks the regulating presence of biological mother, because they are a dyad, loses the ability to self-regulate, i.e. breathing/sleeping studies of infants and mothers, is at a higher risk for SIDS, among a plethora of other ailments. If you are not familiar with these studies, that is professional negligence on your part. There is no excuse. Then you shame that child by telling him/her that their existence is so horrific that viewing it will cause people’s faces to melt of a la Indiana Jones. Then you claim to care about adoptees? Because some of their natural mothers will not grow-up?
        Well even the non-adopted sometimes have natural mothers who will not grow-up, even they are sometimes stymied by the shame people like yourself perpetuate. My adoptive father was in the Vietnam war, it had an terribly deep and painful impact on him. Should he get a CI in case one of his old buddies wants to contact him? Should he be infantalized, protected, from his own experience? If choosing adoption is being a “good mother” why would these good women live in shame from their choice?
        You are also missing the point that so-called, “angry-adoptees” like myself often come from very successful adoptions. I have a very good relationship with my adoptive family, I love them all and feel very loved by them. It was their support and care that led to me being able to break free of the shame and be as nervy as I am. That takes strength and power.
        This is not some big “misunderstanding” this is a deliberate and strategic effort on your organization’s part to harm adoptees well-being. I feel sorry for you,
        I believe that adoption can be the best option for some children, but the children who are in a place that adoption is the best option need to have their needs foremost, identity, which is widely recognized outside of your circle is paramount. These children deserve extra nurturing, extra concern because they have families that are too damaged. I know that happens but the answer is not to shame the children. I am really sorry that you are participating in the gaslighting, it must really suck to be so unauthentic. I had to be when I was younger, I am not now and it is tremendously different.

      • I too would like to see our culture obtain a healthier and more realistic view of adoption than what it is force-fed by popular and entertainment media. I would not describe this as “culture of adoption” as adoption already has a culture. The issue is whether or not organizations, individuals, governments, and society choose to become competent in it.

        In that “culture of adoption” spirit, I take issue with the NCFA’s arguments against equal OBC access for adult adoptees. A healthy “culture of adoption” should seek that all members of the adoption community can experience as much normalcy, acceptance, and equality as any other member of society does. Sealed OBC laws do not treat the mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters of adoption in the same way that all others are treated. This ultimately sends a glaring message to our culture that there’s something wrong with being connected to adoption.

      • Joy, I think “it must really suck to be so unauthentic” is hurtful and unnecessary. That said, I agree with much of what you say; I don’t believe being adopted or placing a child for adoption — or not placing and parenting instead — are things anyone should be ashamed of. The fact that adoption is still so misunderstood, that some people ARE made to feel embarrassed or ashamed about either being a birthparent or being an adoptee, is one of the main reasons I do what I do. Please try to believe that I am not at all interesting in shaming anyone; I don’t view adoption as shameful, or I wouldn’t be involved in it.

        I want to be really clear, I don’t think that anyone speaking out here is necessarily doing so because of their adoptive family relationships. How “happy” or “unhappy” someone is, adopted or no, doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with their activism. I know there are people who want to paint all adoptees (me included) as “dissatisfied” or worse, because we bring up issues or because we search or because we don’t fit their “idea” of what an adoptee should be — I think that’s wrong, and I’m not one of those people. I read and talk about racism, racial issues, and prejudice more than some people I know. Some might think that’s a “pathology” or “obsession,” or I’m one of those “angry POC,” but if they do, they’re wrong to dismiss everything I say based on that.

        I DO think there are plenty of things that people SHOULD be angry about. “Angry” is not a bad or dismissive word in my book. I don’t think there is anything wrong even if you WERE an “angry adoptee” and wanted to call yourself that. But I DON’T think that is where this whole thread is coming from, believe me. I know it’s not as simple as emotions, and I am not trying to dismiss the concerns you’re raising for that or any other reason.

      • Joy also said: “the basic stigma facing adoptees is the hostile, shaming act of sealing the facts of an individual’s life from that person”

        I don’t think everyone would agree this is THE basic stigma. Even if I agreed with you 100% on this issue, saying that it is “the basic stigma” really seems to discount and ignore all the other stigmas, prejudices, and stereotypes faced by different adoptees with different backgrounds and types of adoptions. I don’t say this to minimize the impact of sealed records, just to point out that I, for one, experienced false assumptions and harmful prejudices as an adoptee that had nothing to do with my closed adoption and everything to do with a ton of people just not understanding adoption (esp. transracial adoption) at all. One of the reasons I talk to or write about adoption anywhere, to anyone, for myself or as part of NCFA, is because I want to increase the understanding of what it is — and what it can be. (I think that understanding of it is slowly increasing, but there’s still a long way to go.)

        • Gaye Tannenbaum // July 22, 2012 at 7:38 am // Reply

          The sealed records system is certainly not the only stigma adoptees face, but it IS the only stigma that is written into law for ALL adoptees (even those adopted by step-parents) and the repeal of those laws IS actively opposed by the NCFA.

      • “I don’t think everyone would agree this is THE basic stigma. Even if I agreed with you 100% on this issue, saying that it is “the basic stigma” really seems to discount and ignore all the other stigmas, prejudices, and stereotypes faced by different adoptees with different backgrounds and types of adoptions.”

        I drive past the NCFA every morning on the way to work, and depending on the last thing I’ve heard the NCFA say or have seen it do, I may go by with a respectful nod or a raspberry. Always, though, I scratch my head at why the NCFA continues to resist that to deny an adopted person full and unfettered access to their original birth certificate while granting that right to others is an injustice, pure and simple.

        All stigmas and stereotypes about adoption and adopted people have their roots in this basic stigma of shame. The NCFA should not be questioning whether or not this is true, but should know it instinctively. And it should be advocating for truth rather than perpetuating secrecy.

        The NCFA’s mission is to promote a “culture of adoption.” If that culture is built on anything but the truth, it is nothing but a house of cards.

  14. Hey folks! This is Kevin from Land of Gazillion Adoptees. All I have to say is, Wow! This is some great conversation. Thank you all for participating and keeping it respectful. And I’d like to thank Nicole for taking the time to participate in this post, as well as respond to all of you. I think that act itself says quite a bit. Additionally, I’m happy to see Chuck participating here. More conversations we have as a broader community, the better.

    Okay! Back to your original program!

  15. Chad Rancher // July 18, 2012 at 8:32 pm // Reply

    Look up their salaries, perks, retirement funding, etc. on Guidestar. Then tell me it’s not all about the money. Look at how much the so-called adoption attorneys earn in fees when they transfer ownership of THAT baby to paying customers. When the market for infants dries up in one area, they scour the countryside for fresh babies. They are the vultures of the world; preying on women when they are at their most vulnerable. If the $60,000 for infant adoption fees here and abroad were used instead to help families with the temporary assistance that some new mothers may need for the 2 months after delivery, imagine how many natural mothers and their children could avoid the trauma, and unresolved grief suffered over their lifetimes. Adoption is always about the money. Adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. If the agency members and their followers are truly religious people, they will NEVER allow an infant to be snatched from his mother when there are no health or safety issues. A vulnerable mother will not always be financially disadvantaged. Does anyone at NCFA ever look at themselves in the mirror and realize the brutality and immorality behind what they are doing by supporting and promoting infant adoptions?!?

    • Chad, I’d be glad if struggling parents — at all stages of their children’s lives — could receive more help and support. There are a lot of programs that do help parents and families; I would be glad to see more of them. I’d also like to see parents (married or unmarried) less isolated and judged and given more understanding and freedom. But I disagree that adoption is always seen as a solution to a “temporary problem.” For a person who doesn’t want to parent, or wants to parent but can’t see their way to it at a given time, it’s not always about the money available.

      I have to disagree that adopted infants are always “snatched” from their parents. Parents have choice and agency, as they should, to choose to parent if that is what they want and they can see a way to make it work. I don’t deny that women (and men) facing unintended pregnancy are vulnerable due to the difficulty of their situation, and I don’t deny that they deserve our support, but I can’t agree that they all make placement decisions because they were duped in their vulnerability. I just don’t think that assumption affords them enough respect.

      • Chad Rancher // July 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm // Reply

        Hi Nicole, Thank you for your response to some of my statements. Since pregnant women are still recruited by adoption workers here in the USA through ad campaigns, personal solicitations in restaurants, shopping malls, health clinics, high schools, the media and especially online, for their as yet UNBORN babies, anything that the adoption agencies or their clients do before, or for two months after the birth of a woman’s newborn is COERCIVE. No one should be allowed to approach a pregnant woman in order to solicit HER newborn. Yes, women have unplanned pregnancies, but that doesn’t give adoption agencies or anyone else the right to ease, pressure, bully, isolate her into surrendering her baby with a promise of help with bills, food, clothing or shelter. No one should promise her a “better” life for her baby with adoptive people, because NO ONE can foresee the future. After 2 months of raising her OWN child, if the MOTHER really can’t or doesn’t want to raise HER child, then others who are licensed, qualified, ETHICAL, and truly caring individuals may step in. Take money, adoption fees, lawyers, social workers out of the picture for at least those 2 months post-partum and then we are on our way to truly and ETHICALLY deal with unplanned pregnancies. The pregnancies may be unplanned but that doesn’t mean the babies are unwanted….

      • “… I can’t agree that they all make placement decisions because they were duped in their vulnerability. I just don’t think that assumption affords them enough respect.”

        If the NCFA respects women, then why allow them to place their children into shame and secrecy? That, in my opinion, is just more of the same societal DISRESPECT that usually calls them sluts, just gussied up with prettier words.

        If the NCFA truly respected women, it would be educating them to understand just how damaging it will be to them and their children to deny the truth.

        • Gaye Tannenbaum // July 24, 2012 at 7:50 am // Reply

          When the NCFA produces and promotes a piece like this (below) – how is it NOT perpetuating shame?

          Heroic redemption? Please.

          From Dictionary.com
          re·demp·tion/riˈdempSHən/
          Noun:
          The action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil: “God’s plans for the redemption of his world”.
          A thing that saves someone from error or evil: “his marginalization from the Hollywood jungle proved to be his redemption”.

          Read and understand. This isn’t some obscure publication gathering dust in an archive somewhere. This is NCFA’s #1 birthmother marketing tool.

          BIRTHMOTHER, GOOD MOTHER: Her Story of Heroic Redemption
          By: Charles T. Kenny, Ph.D.
          After working through their fears and conflicts, birthmothers choose adoption because they believe that it is best for their children. They realize that adoption is not abandonment; it is a loving, responsible act. By choosing what is best for their children, birthmothers see themselves as good mothers. Instead of feeling like bad mothers for abandoning children or “giving them away,” they now begin to see that placing their children with loving couples is what it means for them to be good mothers. They redeem themselves, transforming their mistakes into positive outcomes. Adoption allows them to recover their self-esteem, restore their identity, and renew their dreams and goals.

          That’s right folks. A woman facing an unplanned pregnancy can “redeem” herself from her “mistakes” NOT by rising to the challenge of raising HER child but by erasing and repackaging the “mistake”. In the “child’s best interests” of course. Doublespeak.

          • They tell pregnant women:
            Adoption allows them to recover their self-esteem, restore their identity, and renew their dreams and goals.

            We Mother’s of loss to adoption know tha the opposite is true. Our self esteem is ruined, wheee not good enough for our flesh and blood. Dreams and goals are beyond reach because of the depression. And once we give birth we are MOTHERS. When another woman takes over the parenting our identity is stolen.

      • Women should not feel ashamed for the choice to parent. Women should not feel ashamed for the choice to place. That’s what I have been trying to say here and elsewhere in this thread.

        I truly don’t think the adoption decision is a choice that should be entered into lightly — I don’t think it is easily made or, in some ways, ever recovered from. All I mean to say here is that, if a woman does truly WANT to make that choice because she believes it is best for HER (not for every mother, of course), I don’t think she should feel ashamed of that choice. I think, for some women, it can be and is a good choice — which doesn’t make it any less difficult. This is what is behind the birthmother research we did as well. I’ve never met a birthmother who claimed adoption was easy, but I’ve met many who said, it was the right decision for me at the time. I have to respect that, and I don’t think choosing adoption = choosing shame.

        • Gaye Tannenbaum // July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm // Reply

          Choosing adoption is not choosing shame. According to ‘Birthmother, Good Mother”, adoption is how a woman who has made a “mistake” may redeem herself. The implication being that shame will follow her if she makes any other choice.

      • To clarify, the “nikki” comment is from me.

      • ugh, I can see why that’s problematic. By “mistake,” I think the author was referring to the fact that many of the mothers got pregnant by mistake, unintentionally, and some saw their adoption plan as a difficult but overall positive decision they made about a challenging situation they just hadn’t planned to be in. I would need to go dig up the report to be sure, but I think some of the mothers surveyed may also have referred to their own pregnancies as “mistakes” — again, by that I don’t think they meant it as a personal condemnation/judgment of themselves or their actions; I think they just meant they hadn’t gotten pregnant intentionally. Still, that is not the word I’d have chosen to use in the summary. Personally, I wouldn’t use the word “mistake” for most situations unless I was referring to myself and something I’d done specifically.

        I’m truly sorry I can’t better address this point at the moment. I have read the report, but I don’t have my copy anymore, and I last read it years ago (2005, maybe?). If anyone else wants to discuss it, please feel free to email me.

        In everything I’ve said here, I’ve tried to be clear that neither I nor NCFA feel that adoption is the only (or even the preferred) way of dealing with unplanned pregnancy — and for the majority of women in that situation, of course, it’s *not* how they deal with it. I would be/am happy to support, vote for, and help pay for assistance programs for parents who need support, financial resources, counseling — whatever they need to be parents if they want and feel able to be parents. I wish my own birthparents, as dysfunctional and unhappy as they were, had received more genuine support from the social worker at the time of my placement — if they had, things might have been better for my sister. I feel fortunate not to have been raised by my abusive birthmother, but it will always haunt me, the fact that they were truly a family in crisis, and nothing much was done for them.

    • Responding here bc I cannot respond to the other comment.

      I do think it’s very important (so does NCFA) for parents to be given every opportunity within a given time frame (it varies by state) to decide not to place. I don’t think any woman should place without counseling from someone knowledgeable about adoption, because otherwise, how does she know what it involves or what she is getting into? I guess one of my problems with what you’re saying is that I think women truly considering adoption need to be able to speak with someone who understands adoption and the adoption process, or otherwise they might not be considering it for what it IS (both the positives and the negatives). And many adoption agency social workers and staff are better equipped to discuss adoption factually than others who know very little about the process.

      If parents DO place, they would benefit from doing so when they are counseled and fully informed of their rights, etc. No doubt a huge part of this is training other counselors, social workers, health clinic staff, and all others who come into contact with women and men facing unintended pregnancy to discuss adoption in a factual, honest, non-coercive way. One of the biggest problems facing birthparents, I think, is misunderstanding and even judgment from others, many of whom don’t understand adoption or have any experience with it. Adoption agencies often aren’t involved in a woman’s initial interest in/decision to place — for most I think that comes from elsewhere, first, or maybe from within herself — but once they are involved, I think a good agency can be an adoption-safe place for women to actually explore that option without feeling judged for it. Until everyone knows a lot about adoption, how else can she have all her questions about it answered if she doesn’t talk to an agency, lawyer, or someone familiar with the process? But finding a good agency and a counselor she trusts is important. And I know that you think the whole system is corrupt, so undoubtedly you won’t agree with me on the role a good agency can fill as a source of adoption information for those who don’t know a lot about it. But that is one role I think that agencies can fill in their communities.

      It’s an interesting point you make about a woman parenting her child for two months before adoption is even mentioned. Of course, some parents do parent for different periods of time before relinquishment. But what about those women who can’t see themselves parenting for at least two months? What about the women who lack the practical, emotional, financial support they would need to do that? (My own personal view — I think as a society we fail in NUMEROUS ways to help all parents, especially struggling ones, and especially parents of infants and young children — it needs to change, but it appears not to be, any time soon.) And what about the women who just don’t want to? Should they be required to do it anyway? That could have some fairly disastrous results for parents AND children. Plus, the older a baby/child gets, the more attached s/he is to caregivers, and the more traumatic a separation would be.

      I’m also a fan of not promising women “a better life” for their children. It’s just the absolute wrong words to use. It’s a different life. And you hope, a safe, secure, loving one, with a great family and a great future. But there are never any guarantees.

      • Chad Rancher // July 19, 2012 at 10:28 pm // Reply

        Nicole,
        Thank you again for your timely reply. Do you have any idea how many times you said the words “I think” in this reply? What happened to the words “I feel”? And you personalized this reply, while at the same time, spouting and promoting the adoption industry’s dogma. No one is proposing that infants remain in unsafe, dangerous, or unhealthy situations, nor that mothers who are unable to care for their infant be required or forced to do so. Those of us who have worked in the health care industry, as I have, know full well when there exists the possibility of a dangerous situation for an infant or child. But we also know when there exists coercion, manipulation and criminal practices. Since adoption is based on crony-capitalism driven by the profit-motive, any time money changes hands between the agencies and/or their partners and adoptive parents, it creates adoption situations filled with fraud and coercion. If the adoption industry takes the money out of adoption, retains the child’s right to his true identity by NOT altering his original birth certficate, and stops scouring the world for women who are experiencing unplanned pregnancies, then we (adoptees and natural parents) will all believe the NCFA has the “Best Interests of Adoptees” at heart. Until then, we will continue to promote what we know is in the best interests of babies and their true forever “families”, not a bunch of strangers…

      • If I may interject, I think it is important to note that NCFA is often judged by the behavior of its member agencies. These things are all well and good, Nicole. I agree with you on many points and happy for it. However, consider this.

        There was a bill in Oregon not too long ago. HB 2904. It was brought about by several cases where mothers felt pressured to place, were misinformed, and subsequently, had no way of overturning their adoptions. HB 2904 sought to rectify unfair timing procedures for decision-making as well as required mandatory disclosure/counselling for expectant parents. I think you and I would agree that these are all good things.

        This bill was vehemently opposed by Families Supporting Adoption. Some of the opponents claimed that mandatory disclosure laws violated a woman’s right to waive counselling if she didn’t wish to receive it. They also claimed that lengthening the revocation periods (it was like 30 days, I mean, come on) was too much stress on the Prospective Adoptive Family.

        FSA is sponsored by LDS Family Services. LDS Family Services in Oregon is an NCFA member agency.

    • What’s wrong with using “I think” as opposed to “I feel”? I’m thinking/typing quickly to try to respond, so no, I hadn’t noticed that I used “I think” a lot. Sorry?

      I’m kind of afraid to ask, but what do you mean that I “personalized” my reply? And…is that a good thing or a bad thing? I’m not trying to “spout” anything or be disrespectful in any way, and I do apologize if it’s coming across that way.

  16. Gaye Tannenbaum // July 19, 2012 at 2:53 am // Reply

    Great comments here. You all rock! A special thank you to Nicole for sharing her views and her personal story.

    I would like to expand on what Amanda said about the majority of adoptions – step-parent and foster care adoptions.

    Relinquishment does not seal records, adoption does.

    That’s why OBCs are sealed in nearly ALL adoptions – step-parent adoptions, foster care adoptions, adoption of grandchildren and other relatives, adoption of true orphans, even “open” adoptions. Collectively, these make up most of the adoptions in the US – yet the NCFA doesn’t even address the fact that these adoptees are also subject to the same restrictions wrt access to their own records. These adoptions have nothing whatsoever to do with any claims of “birthparent privacy”, yet the records are still sealed.

    In the few states where certain adoptions do not have to be sealed, it is the option of the ADOPTIVE parents to have the records sealed or not.

    This makes sense when you (as TAO suggests) read the actual legislative history and contemporaneous news articles. ADOPTION was the family secret to be protected. “Birthparent privacy” wasn’t even on the legislative radar.

    • Thanks, Gaye. I wouldn’t think the term “birthparent privacy” was the one anyone used, since they were mostly trying to hide highly stigmatized pregnancy and adoption. I also would think that many birthparents later on wouldn’t mind if their identities were known, esp. to their children.

  17. Here are some excellent prerequisites for adoption to proceed thoughtfully put together by Origins – Canada
    ” Following are the necessary prerequisites which must be present in order for a mother to be able to make a decision for adoption. If any of these prerequisites are lacking, then the mother cannot make this decision and inquires should be made as to who in her life stands to benefit from her surrendering her baby for adoption and has worked towards this end.
    1 The mother must have recovered from childbirth and have had access to her child in order to get to know her baby as a person, her son or daughter.
    2 The mother must have had the opportunity to engage in a mother-child relationship with her child, with adequate support and mentoring.
    3 The mother must be screened and treated for any possible postpartum depression or other health issues which may influence her surrender decision.
    4 The mother must be fully informed of the risk of lifelong emotional consequences to herself and her baby.
    5 The mother must be instructed on the realities of the legal institution of adoption: Filiation will be severed and she will no longer be legally related to her child. Open adoption agreements are not legally binding and she may never see her child again. An amended birth record will be issued stating that the adoptive parents gave birth to her child. Depending on the jurisdiction, her child may never be able to obtain a copy of his/her original birth record or learn about the natural parents
    6 There must be no financial coercion, either in the form of (1) poverty, financial insecurity, or lack of resources, or (2) having fallen prey to entrapment practices such as having received gifts or money during her pregnancy with the expectation of handing over her baby in exchange.
    7 There must be no pre-birth matching or prior contact with (and thus influence from) prospective adoptive parents. This is because of the high risk of emotional coercion resulting from this contact (e.g., fear of hurting or disappointing them by keeping her baby, feeling they deserve her baby more than she does, bonding with them due to high oxytocin levels during pregnancy and birth, etc.).
    8 There must be no contact or influence during her pregnancy or before recovery from any person or agency who will benefit financially or otherwise by her baby being placed for adoption
    (from http://www.originscanada.org/what-is-adoption-coercion)

  18. Susan Perry, http://nanadays.blogspot.com/2012/05/ncfa-is-not-expert-on-adoption-issues.html
    “NCFA does not place children for adoption but does receive a fee from its agency members every time one of them succeeds in placing a child. The average cost to adoptive parents at agencies facilitating the adoption of infants under one year is $30,000. According to 2005 IRS form #990, NCFA’s total gross receipts during that year were $2,920,818. Besides placement and membership fees, much of NCFA’s revenue comes from government grants. NCFA is a skilled and savvy lobbying entity.”
    This is where I got that information. I suppose I should not have used the word “commission.” It’s technically a “fee” according to Ms. Perry.

    • Priscilla, I realize my word may not convince you, but I feel the need to reiterate that NCFA does NOT receive any kind of fee per child placement. NCFA’s member agencies contribute annual membership dues that are not dependent in any way on their number of placements.

      • Gaye Tannenbaum // July 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm // Reply

        From GUIDESTAR:
        http://www.guidestar.org/PartnerReport.aspx?partner=justgivews&ein=75-1721671#

        Three Programs are listed:

        “Families for All” which promotes adoption from foster care ($165,000)

        “Infant Adoption Training Initiative” which trains health care professionals in how to present the “option of adoption” to young women ($734,000)

        “Infant Adoption Revival Project” which “provides women who are pregnant and considering adoption vital adoption information” ($425,500)

        I think the numbers speak for themselves.

    • Hi, I’ve gone to the links provided by you and below in response to Nicole and I can’t find a direct link to NCFA receiving fees for child placement. Is there a direct link that is available, as I’m very curious about this.

      Thanks

  19. How are you doing today, Nicole? I’m sure you did not expect this, lol. No one here is bashing you, or criticizing you, but I think it’s safe to say that everyone here thinks that the people who work for The NCFA should know EXACTLY what the organization stands for. Follow the links some of us have posted- you really do not have to dig too deep to find out what The NCFA REALLY stands for and how much money they make from their umbrella agencies.

    • I did expect it, sort of. 🙂 It’s all right. I do feel that I know what the organization stands for, because I work there, I’ve been a part of the discussions, and I’ve seen what goes on. We’ve changed a lot over time, because adoption has changed a great deal — not that it’s done changing, and I think that’s a good thing. And we’ll continue to grow and change as any organization would. I just want to try to be a part of the positive changes and growth moving forward.

  20. Nicole,

    Seeing as you are open to talking…

    Perhaps the NCFA would like to encourage transparency by posting a list of mandatory ethical requiements that are requirements of membership for adoption agencies. That would speak a lot to being open to change as well publically stating when they sanction a member for not being ethical. Do they even have conduct requirements for membership and any type of oversight to ensure compliance? Prospective adoptive parents see the “Member of the NCFA” and make the assumption that there is oversight – kind of like a BBB rating.

    It would also be helpful if instead of working so hard on ensuring the Adoption Tax Credit was pushed through legislature and getting people to write letters to their congressmen, that they would have had time to lobby to get at least one bill pushed through regarding fixing the mess of International Adult Adoptees who have found that they do not have citizenship – one tiny little bill to stop adult adoptees from being deported. I checked the CCAI (whatever the intials are) and the NCFA and found so many “other” bills – but nothing for the real serious issue of adult adoptee deportation and I have to ask why. Did the NCFA lobby for a stop the deportation of adult adoptees and why haven’t we seen or heard about that?

    Thanks.

    • Thank you for the suggestion — I want to be careful replying here because I’m not the membership person at NCFA. Our members do have requirements, some of them concerning their ethics and practice — but with such a small staff, we cannot and are not involved in policing them. That’s all I want to say right now; I may ask someone else to chime in here who deals more w/ membership specifically. Any more specific questions, send them to me via email and I can ask if I don’t know.

      NCFA has been working on the issue of adoptee deportation — it’s very important to us, and is one issue we’ve been discussing with Kevin as well as other groups, including CCAI. We have published articles on the subject, issued a statement about Kaira Abha Shepherd, and are working to educate lawmakers about the importance of addressing this issue. Kevin actually interviewed Chuck about this recently. The most recent article (though not the only one) we’ve written on the subject is here.

      • Thanks Nicole –

        I can understand a small org not having the staff to monitor but do you understand the concern that ‘because you are a member = ethical’ to a prospective adoptive parent? To me that is an ethical concern that has to be addressed – you see the membership logo on the agency website – you trust adoption is good – hey – they are members after all – then you find out after placement that the agency has a habit of ‘working’ around the father and his consent by relocating the mother…I am sure you get where I am going and it quite frankly makes any organization linked to that agency look bad and their reputation is damaged. That is the risk of not monitoring or enforcing clean ethical adoptions where no one is brushed aside, all rights are protected and then some and it truly is the best option for all. No adoptee wants to find out that their father was ‘helped’ out of the picture and actually wanted to raise you in your family or your mother was pressured to sign surrender papers at 24 hours after birth by c-section – it taints the entire adoption and really hurts everyone. Clean, ethical, no pressure on placing or making the mother feel inferior or needing to sign as soon as legally possible – it has simply become far too much of an industry of finding babies for families – not finding families for children who need homes. Until good people step up and publically say – it must be done right or not done at all – bad people will continue to act and all will be painted with the same brush.

        The NCFA needs to really lobby to get any type of path to citizenship for adult adoptees into the next legislative session – writing papers isn’t enough – perhaps actively seeking the adoptive parent community to write letters or perhaps – they should have tacked that onto the ATC legislation – that happens all the time in every other piece of legislation…

        Thanks!

    • Cannot reply to your comment below, so responding here. NCFA membership can’t be viewed as our endorsement, because we can’t oversee or even acquaint ourselves with every single agency staff member. We do know a lot of them, of course, but they’re all over the country obviously. The job of oversight is really an agency’s — and we encourage strict accountability and have refused membership when we have legit concerns and have proof of a problem. but I do understand your concern about PAPs assuming all of an agency’s personnel are in line if they see the NCFA logo. We just aren’t in that role of policing agencies; we aren’t involved in licensing or accreditation, etc.

      Thank you for your suggestions on the adoptee deportation issue — it is something we want to get more involved in. I agree papers aren’t enough. We do give those publications to legislators and their staff, and we are talking about the issue with them, too. All our agencies are aware of our advocacy on this issue, and we are trying to stress how important it is for all agencies, not just our members obviously, to make sure adoptive parents know about it too.

      My email address is all over this thread — feel free to email me about this or anything else.

      • Accepting membership dues from an agency makes it look like an endorsement of their practices, Nicole. I understand the oversight issues. But it’s just the way it comes off.

      • I know, Amanda, it’s a good point. NCFA doesn’t think of itself as a trade assoc. or solely representing the beliefs of our adoption agencies (since many of them have different beliefs, and none are required to agree with every single one of NCFA’s policies, we couldn’t guarantee that anyway). Agency dues make up a very tiny portion of our annual budget; as closely as we work with and as much as we value our agencies, we can’t and don’t answer to all of them — there is no way we could. And I don’t think that is what they expect of us; I think different agencies join for different reasons, and most rely on us most on a day-to-day basis for information, news and updates, and dissemination.

      • Adoptee citizenship is an area in which the NCFA is indeed getting more involved; I have had personal experience with and am grateful for your assistance with a serious citizenship-related issue last fall. Given that legislators have in the past listened very little to adoptees (which hopefully will change with a bang this coming Friday), your lobbying on this issue is critical.

  21. Nicole ~~ An invitation and offer. I would like to personally invite you to join us in Chicago on August 5-6 for the events surrounding the Adoptee Rights Demonstration to be held in conjunction with the National Conference of State Legislators. I am willing to kick in for your travel expenses. I want you to meet in person some of the many wonderful selfless, dedicated volunteers who are working so hard to secure equal rights for you and all adoptees and hear the compelling arguments that have convinced me that across-the-board equality is an absolute imperative. Let me know if you can make it. I would be happy to share my hotel room or whatever else I can do. Come and join the discussion and see for yourself.
    http://www.adopteerightscoalition.com

    • Priscilla, that’s a generous offer if it’s a sincere one, and I thank you for it. I’m afraid there’s no way I could make it this year, on such short notice, plus I’ve got a baby at home. I am always open to further discussion/learning more from people/etc. if I feel assured of respectful discourse. You’ve already indicated elsewhere in the comments that you don’t think I’m a “self-respecting adoptee,” you’ve called me young/naive (well: partly true, no doubt), compared me to the Wizard of Oz (? or am I supposed to be Dorothy? That was a bit confusing), and told me you believe I’m lying. All of these are opinions you are entirely entitled to, and I can understand them given your opinions about NCFA — maybe you didn’t mean them personally because you were mostly expressing frustration with NCFA. I get that, but it doesn’t exactly make me feel confident in our ability to talk about the issues.

      And that’s okay; no one owes me a discussion or explanation of any kind just because I did an interview. I didn’t talk with Kevin because I thought doing so would win me a popularity contest, or because I thought it would earn me brownie points or trust. I really enjoyed talking with him, hope it was mutual, and hope we can chat again. You may not believe in my sincerity, and that’s your right and totally fine, but I really would like to continue the discussion with anyone who wants to talk with me. At some point I’ll probably stop checking the thread because that’s how it goes, but anyone should feel free to email me any time.

      I want to say that in general I’ve been very glad to see the openness and even generosity of some of the responses to my interview. I knew it was going to open up a can of worms, but I really wanted to do it, and I’m still glad that I did. Even when our opinions differ, it’s natural for me to feel the greatest empathy with other adoptees, even more than other members of the triad. That’s just how it is, and I am actually glad for it.

      I’m also sorry for not being more well-spoken on all the issues, but I’m trying through my participation in the thread to give you all the respect I think your comments and concerns truly deserve. So, thank you again for having me. /ramble

      • I wanted to add one more thing — every time I think I’ve got my mind made up about something, it changes, so keep talking to me, by all means. I am honestly trying to listen and think about what I’m hearing (well, reading). Thanks!

      • Of course it was a genuine offer. And I did not call you a liar – I said *you* (i.e., speaking the NCFA party line) were talking out of both sides of your mouth. Much like Amanda likened it to trying to hold onto two trains going in the opposite direction (she is much more articulate and well-mannered than I am). And, as far as being naive and lacking self-respect, I was exactly that after I lost my baby in 1964. I dutifully repeated the “birthmother party line,” too, that “I did the right and loving thing for my baby,” “gave my daughter a better life,” etc., etc. ad nauseum – literally! I made myself mentally, physically and spiritually sick! And then I woke up and realized what had been done to us and millions of other mothers and fathers and children by the adoption machine, how we had been manipulated, duped and exploited for greed and profit. And now I spend all of my time (retired old lady) trying to wake up others and helping those coming out of the fog to find their truth and justice. Everyone here will tell you, I don’t just preach it, I walk the talk. I have helped hundreds of adoptees find their original identities and families. I am a search angel, I take no fees and will not act as an intermediary even if they beg me to. I give them back their families and their lives before adoption and respect their very personal decision about what to do with it. And every time I do it, I can’t help but exult at the adoptoraptors. Chalk up another victory for us! Another adoptee freed from the oppression of secrets and lies!

        If you can’t come to Chicago, I hope maybe some of us close to D.C. can get together with you sometime – especially Amanda. I will disengage for now. Like Cassi, I am becoming very uncomfortable listening to you try to justify the NCFA and it’s outrageous, indefensible, and offensive policies and procedures. I guess you just can’t understand the rage (and PTSD) it engenders in most of us and how difficult it is for us to maintain restrained, civil discourse in the face of it. Perhaps we’ll chat again sometime. In the meantime, this is my bottom line position on adoption:

        Babies belong with their mommies and daddies, if not with their mommy or daddy, if not with their grandparents, if not with extended family. Infant adoption to strangers should be the last resort when both parents are deceased and there is no other family who can care for the baby, and then it must be done without wiping out the child’s identity, family history, heritage and knowledge of the identity of those to whom they are blood related. No money should ever change hands in the custody of a child, especially not to “agencies” “finders” or “brokers.” *All* foreign importation and trafficking of infants and children must cease immediately.

        Wishing you all the best in your journey, Nicole. Enjoy your baby and try to think of all those mothers who have been forever deprived of that joy because of the NCFA and its member agencies.

  22. Hey folks! I very much appreciate the time you’ve taken to respond and to engage Nicole. However, I encourage all of you to be respectful, especially to Nicole. She’s in a difficult position, and I admire the fact that she’s been willing to continue talking with everyone even though some of the stuff that has been said to her has been demeaning. Nicole could have left this conversation a long time ago, but she has opted to talk.

    I very much enjoyed my conversation with Nicole during the recording of this podcast. We talked for an hour afterwards, and, despite our differences, we came to an agreement about a lot of stuff. That says a lot.

    Again, please be respectful of her time, and what has transpired here – genuine conversations between adoptees from all walks of life.

    • Thanks, Kevin. I appreciate you having me here, in large part because I know that this is an important “safe” space for many adoptees and others, and my presence here is probably upsetting to some people. I think of some of the “safe” spaces I have in my own life — places where I freely unload political opinions, or explore issues of race, etc. — and I probably wouldn’t like it if someone came in who argued disrespectfully. So, I’m trying not to do that here. For the times when I fail, I sincerely ask people to forgive and try to bear with me. Thanks!

      • This should be a safe place for you, Nicole. It should be a safe place for everyone; I don’t invite guests to come into hostile environments. You took your time to talk with me, and have taken a tremendous amount of time engaging others. Everyone should respect that. If others here want to make an unsafe environment, I’d encourage you to shift gears now; this is a public space where folks come to engage in dialogue.

  23. Out of respect for Kevin, Amanda and all others who are a part of this blog, I have decided it is best to take my comments to my own blog.

    I am a long time supporter of Adoptees and Adoptee Rights. But I can’t support the continued lies and propaganda that Nicole is sharing here in her defense of the NCFA. And I find myself limited to how I can respond and unable to have a true voice to defend myself and so many other vulnerable mothers who were victims to the very practices Nicole is supporting here.

    I stand up every chance I get and fight fiercely against the NCFA and anyone else who dares to suggest adoptees don’t deserve their equal rights. Anyone who spreads the lies of bi#%hmother confidentiality or suggests adoptees are crazed lunatics who can’t be trusted with their own personal information.

    But I also believe in standing up and fighting just as fiercely to end the lies and myths that exist to justify coercing and manipulating vulnerable pregnant mothers to give up their unborn babies to the more deserving, paying couple. And yet, Nicole is repeating those lies and myths over and over again and I am left unable to stand up for myself and other First Moms with the same force I would stand up for adoptees.

    What Nicole is saying in support of how horribly vulnerable, pregnant mothers are treated by the NCFA and the adoption industry is painful and heart-wrenching to those of us who have lived the reality she is encouraging. Who are victims of the very policies she is encouraging here.

    I just hope, as this is a designated place where she is safe to say what she wants, that others might remember that long before this interview ever took place, many of us have stood up and fought for adoptees, for their rights, for their protection. And we have realized, long before this, the damage in allowing the NCFA to push their message without question, without argument. Because the reality is, it all begins with the coercion and manipulation that Nicole is encouraging. Without that, there would never be so many adoptees being taken unnecessarily from their families, forced to live with false identities and stripped of their equal rights.

    • Cassi, obviously my interview/posting here has deeply upset you, and I am sorry for it. I didn’t do it to cause pain or rub anyone’s nose in anything, and wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been asked. I’ve never once in this thread or in my interview advocated coercion or manipulation of anyone involved in adoption, especially first parents. I’ve been trying to address these comments with the respect and candor I think you all deserve, but again, I am very sorry if my presence here offends or is triggering for you.

      I was going to say more, but I think I’ll just leave it at this apology. Thank you for your honesty, even if it was hard for me to read some of the things you wrote to me.

      • Nicole, I do believe you are truly a kind and caring person. I don’t agree, at all, with what seems to be yours and the NCFA’s belief in how to treat vulnerable pregnant mothers but I do respect your courage to do the interview and to continue to comment here.

  24. So, heading into the weekend and comments have slowed down, and I just wanted to explain that I won’t be checking the thread much after today. Thank you all for the discussion, and thank you, Kevin, for inviting me to do the interview and participate in the comments after. I’m glad so many of you have a strong and supportive community here. Makes me wish I’d had something like this growing up! As I stated above, I know that my being here in your space was bothersome to a lot of people, and I’m genuinely sorry for any hurt or misunderstanding I might have caused. I know it is hard to trust where you’ve been hurt, so I also apologize for any past negative experiences with NCFA. And I’m sorry for the times when I expressed myself inadequately here — I was typing fast to try to keep up with all the comments, and in several places I’m sure I could’ve been more articulate, but that’s how it goes. Please feel free to email me if you would like to follow up or discuss anything else.

    My thinking about my own adoption/families and adoption more generally has changed a lot over the years, and I’m sure it will continue to, but I will always be an adoptee — it’s a fundamental part of my life and my identity. You may not feel a connection to me, but I do feel a connection to other adoptees. Any chance I get to talk with others affected by adoption is always more than worth my time, and so I thank everyone who talked with me openly and respectfully here at LGA.

    • Thank you for all of your time spent here, Nicole. We appreciate it.

    • Thanks again to Kevin and Amanda and everyone else. I want to say again that I’m here and always glad to listen/correspond about adoption issues with anyone at LGA, especially my fellow adoptees. I’m very open to examining, questioning, and even changing my views and opinions on any number of issues, and in that I am not alone at NCFA. So please feel free to contact me any time if you want to follow up on this post or discuss anything else. 🙂

  25. I have no doubt the NCFA is behind this new disgusting TV “show” “I’m Having Their Baby”. This is simply further proof to me that the adopters and NCFA and other promoters and profiteers of adoption don’t give a rat’s patootie about us mothers – millions of us – who lost babies to adoption. They don’t care that even the commercials for this egregiously exploitative program (“reality TV” my ass!), the advertising that can’t be avoided if we tried, will trigger PTSD, trauma and sadness even 48 years later. What is wrong with you people?! Why are you so callous and uncaring of the mothers (and many fathers I know) who have lost forever our children! You harvest our babies for your “as-if-forever-happy-complete families” and toss us to the curb like yesterday’s cereal container! SHAME ON YOU! ALL OF YOU!

    • Of course NCFA isn’t behind this show. We have not endorsed it and will not endorse it. I personally am not even going to watch, as I’m totally put off/grossed out by the title.

      Priscilla, I think there’s plenty to legitimately criticize/question about adoption and NCFA without going to untrue things, like this and the false accusation that we get adoption “commissions.” I have tried to be very open and respectful here, and I am happy to continue the conversation here or via email, but please afford me a bit of respect as well if you want to have that discussion. Thank you.

      • In that case, I look forward eagerly to seeing Mr. Johnson’s public statement to that effect and in turn I will happily apologize for my statements here and on Facebook.

      • I don’t think Chuck is going to make a public statement on either this show or the fact that we do not receive placement commissions, but I work for NCFA, and this is a public forum that anyone can view, so you could call this a public statement by an NCFA staff member if you want to.

      • Not good enough, Nicole. As I said above, “In the case of adoptees, we are demanding, and will accept nothing less than, equal treatment, respect, and rights for all adopted people, the same as non-adopted, to their personal birth information, family history and heritage, and the identity of those to whom they are blood related. In the case of mothers and fathers who have been victims of forced or coerced adoptions (according to conservative estimate, 1.5 million mothers, alone, from the years 1945 to 1972), we demand an official investigation, acknowledgement and apology for the adoption practices of the past 75 years, and a serious overhaul, if not halt to current adoption practices that are couched in lies and shrouded in secrecy.” Until the day I hear an official public statement from Mr. Johnson to that effect, I will continue to expose the NCFA for what it is – a very well-paid shill promoting adoptoraptor agencies, including this abomination called “I’m Having *Their* Baby.”
        And now we have the attention of Congress. To be continued Friday in Washington, D.C.

  26. Chad Rancher // July 25, 2012 at 7:51 pm // Reply

    Hi Nicole,
    When Chuck, the NCFA, and all their dues-paying affiliates (or whichever term(s) you prefer to use to describe them) REMOVE the exchange of money between the agencies/affiliates/infant-harvesters/baby-traffickers and adopters for the purchase of a newborn/infant/child from vulnerable/needing-assistance/pregnant women, then many on this site and other legitimate adoption rights forums will believe them. In the meantime, I am personally offended by anyone who in any, way, shape or form, believes, supports, or promotes the notions that an unplanned pregnancy means an unwanted baby, or that the baby was a mistake, or that the mother needs to give up her unplanned, but very much loved, baby to strangers in order to redeem herself for “HER MISTAKE.” Women who have lost a child to adoption know full well when statements like these are part and parcel of the adoption establishment mindset, other vulnerable pregnant women today are going to be schmoozed by the adoption industry, until they cave-in to the pressure from social workers, clergy, adoption attorneys, and PAPs. And as soon as the ink is dry on the relinquishment papers, they will be scorned and vilified by these same people and the general public until the day they die…

    • Hi Chad,

      I want women to feel supported in whatever choice they make in an unintended pregnancy. I agree 100% with this: “I am personally offended by anyone who in any, way, shape or form, believes, supports, or promotes the notions that an unplanned pregnancy means an unwanted baby, or that the baby was a mistake, or that the mother needs to give up her unplanned, but very much loved, baby to strangers in order to redeem herself for ‘HER MISTAKE.'”

      And the high fees in infant/intercountry adoption concern me not only because they make adoption more difficult in many cases, but because they privilege the already privileged in so many cases. Of course not all adoptive parents are wealthy (in fact mine had/have less money than my birthparents did/do — but my adoption was unusual in a lot of ways), but in general in the U.S. and elsewhere there IS this huge imbalance of power and resources (even bigger, I think, in the case of many intercountry adoptions). Personally speaking, this is the aspect of adoption I find the most troubling. It’s the one I question the most.

      • Chad Rancher // July 25, 2012 at 9:27 pm // Reply

        Hi Nicole, We do have some common ground when we agree that adoption fees tend to favor the wealthier, more financially-able people to adopt. But, I fear that those same high fees are precisely what is fueling the adoption industry’s need to scour the domestic and international countrysides in order to procure the fresh-from-the-womb newborns that are so desirable for PAPs and HAPs. I can guarantee that the adoption industry would completely shrivel up and disappear if no one paid any fees. It is a market driven by supply and demand. If it were not, then why would blond-haired, white newborns be nearly twice the cost (in adoption-fees) of dark-haired minority infants? They are all babies. And, of course, the use of unplanned vs unintended pregnancies still irks me, too. “Unplanned” connotes an unexpected, but joyous surprise, while “unintended” implies something quite unwelcome and to be avoided at any cost. This is adoption industry “speak” to help sever the level of attachment between the natural mother and her newborn and brainwash the mother into surrendering…

      • Gaye Tannenbaum // July 26, 2012 at 3:25 am // Reply

        Nicole – Thank you for sticking it out here. I think we’re starting to find some common ground.

        On the subject of adoption cost – it is my opinion that the Adoption Tax Credit, rather than making adoption “more affordable”, actually drove costs up – in much the same way that low mortgage rates drive up home prices.

        I have other issues with the ATC, but this will do for starters.

      • Chad, I wish adoption fees worked/were totally different, too, believe me. Our member agencies have been increasingly involved in adoptions out of U.S. foster care, which of course require little/no fees, but I agree the steepness of the fees for infant/intercountry adoptions is an enormous issue that raises a lot of moral/ethical questions.

        That is an interesting point about unplanned vs. unintended. I hadn’t thought of it in the terms you used. I assure you, by using “unintended” rather than “unplanned” I wasn’t trying to suggest that one is better/worse/more wanted/less wanted.

      • Gaye, I’m very interested to hear more about your opinions on the ATC — can you email me at ncallahan @ adoptioncouncil.org whenever it’s convenient for you? Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: