I don’t like extreme points of view. I don’t like self-published books. And, as a writing snob, I don’t like sentences that cause me to think, “Where was the editor?” Despite all of these things, I do like Mirah Riben’s new book, The Stork Market: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry. That’s because I view it as a piece of dedicated, tenacious reporting, collecting many disparate facts into one unified whole. By recounting the many ways that the big business of adoption has harmed those it has purported to help, The Stork Market exposes a side of the institution that many would like to ignore. Fortunately, it’s a story that is starting to be told with increasing regularity, whether it’s by people like birth mother… [more]
Everyone loves a good Lifetime Movie, right?? I know I sure do! Adoption seems to be a popular topic for Lifetime movies. However, they often don’t display adoption in the most positive light.
Recently though, I watched a Lifetime movie that portrayed adoption positively. Mom at Sixteen is the story of a teenaged Mom, Jacey (played by Danielle Panabaker). When Jacey becomes pregnant, her Mom, Terry (Mercedes Ruehl) insists that she make an adoption plan. Jacey agrees and chooses adoptive parents. Right after her son is born; Jacey changes her mind and begs her Mom to let her keep her baby. Her Mom agrees, but only if she (the Mother) raises the baby, Charlie, as her own, essentially raising Jacey’s baby as her brother.
Allow me to recommend a truly fantastic book for women in unplanned pregnancies. It’s called Surprise Child: Finding Hope in Unexpected Pregnancy and it’s by Leslie Leyland Fields. Whether you consider yourself too young, too old, too poor, too sick, or too overburdened to welcome a child right now, or you have some other special circumstance (such as rape) that makes you doubt your ability to be a good mother, you will certainly find a story you can relate to in this book. It’s one of the few resources I’ve found that encourages women to look at an unplanned pregnancy as an opportunity rather than as a problem to be solved. Fields acknowledges how easily pregnancy can seem like an inconvenience, a stumbling block, or even a… [more]
Recently I re-read a book that touched on what I wrote in my last two posts, about how parents of women in crisis pregnancies tend to view the baby as a “problem” at first, rather than as a family member. The book is My Child is A Mother: A True and Happy Story of Open Adoption, by Mary Stephenson. Mary is the mother of Karen, who got pregnant at age 17. The book, written in 1991, chronicles the story of how the Stephenson family dealt with Karen’s crisis. Karen realizes from the beginning that she cannot give her baby girl up without knowing where her daughter will be and how she is doing. Someone suggests open adoption, so the family finds themselves at an… [more]
To my list of movies that might be good for you to see, allow me to add Casa de los Babys. This independent film tells the story of six American women who travel to an unnamed Latin American country in order to adopt babies. The women must live there until the adoptions are approved and finalized. As with any group of humans, the characters represent a mixed bag. Some of these mothers-to-be are good people, while others are downright horrible. (A few of the women are your stereotypical “clueless Americans,” and to varying degrees, they all struggle with the clash of cultures and social classes that occurs when relatively wealthy Americans travel to much poorer countries.) In addition, all of them have their own reasons for… [more]
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—the single best thing you can be doing for you and your baby right now is to read, read, read. Educating yourself about the realities of adoption will go a long way toward helping you make the right decision. However, if you get tired of hitting the books, you might want to take a break and watch some movies instead. I’ll discuss two of them today. First, the non-fiction view. Unlocking the Heart of Adoption is a wonderful documentary about adoption, seen from all three sides of the triad. Made by a birthmother, Sheila Ganz, this hour-long film acknowledges all the complex emotions inherent in adoption. The documentary intersperses Sheila’s own experiences with stories from birthparents, adoptive parents and adopted… [more]
When something as big as adoption enters your life, it’s natural to want to write about it. Most people want to share the wisdom of what they have learned and save others from making the same mistakes they did. Unfortunately, some would-be authors just don’t have the skill or the talent to create readable prose, so many memoirs about adoption are just plain bad—-overwrought, poorly crafted, or worst of all, inaccurate. This is not the case with Jan Waldron’s well-written and occasionally poetic book, "Giving Away Simone." Waldron is a birthmother from the late 1960s who had the unlucky distinction of being from a family where five generations of mothers abandoned or relinquished their children. (Her own mother had a mental breakdown after a divorce and… [more]
In yesterday’s post I talked about writing a letter to your child, one that attempts to answer the big question on every adopted person’s mind: “Why?” If you don’t know how to begin, one place to start might be to read the words of those women who have gone before you. I know of at least one resource that has collected letters from birthmothers to the children they placed for adoption. It’s called "I Wish For You a Beautiful Life: Letters from the Korean Birth Mothers of Ae Ran Won to their Children." (Located in Seoul, Korea, Ae Ran Won is a home for women in crisis pregnancies. About 15 percent of the women who stay there choose to parent their children; the rest entrust their… [more]
I often say that there are no books to teach you how to become a birthparent, but in reality, some authors have tried. One of the better efforts I've seen is Jeanne Warren Lindsay’s Pregnant? Adoption Is an Option: Making an Adoption Plan for a Child. Published in 1996, the book offers a surprisingly progressive view of adoption. It does a better job than most of helping expectant parents weigh their options, while avoiding undue pressure from those who dearly want the baby they're carrying. Adoption is an Option isn’t a perfect book, but my quibbles with it are minor. Overall, Lindsay understands ethical adoption practices and gives sound advice to people dealing with crisis pregnancies. The book is heavily based on the experiences of 39 birthparents (and… [more]
Fear is a common feeling for any parent-to-be, and there is even more fear for expectant parents in a crisis pregnancy. Not only are you worried about the crisis pressures like money, housing, timing, childcare, or general disapproval, but you face all the same large-scale worries other expectant parents face (“Will I be a good mom or dad? Will my baby be okay in this big, scary world? What can I do to make sure my child turns out well?”) Because they are not as connected to the pregnancy experience (and are often shunted to the sidelines), men can feel even more of this fear than women. Men often get a bad rap for “running away” during a crisis pregnancy, but many… [more]