This is what we’re up against my friends …

People like Heidi Hess Saxton.

Others have posted on this but here’s my two cents worth. I did make a comment on the article which was published and it appears to have gotten a response since I’m mentioned by [blogger] name – unsigned masterpiece.

It’s also now my sign in name at the CatholicExchange. That’s OK.

Here’s what I started to write about the article but then events kind of overtook me.

I have said the statement below was a reason being put forward to keep adoption records closed but, to tell the truth, I always wondered if it was propaganda for our side.  But, now I have read it in black and white, and on line.

Adoption records should not be opened because it will discourage future pregnant teens from giving up their children for

You can read it below for yourself. That and a lot of other twaddle about birth parents and adopted people.

Written with not much “Christian” love on a Catholic website.

You’ll find myths, stereotypes and half truths put forward in the name of correcting the biased information disseminated by Bastard Nation and other adoption rights advocates.

I left this comment:

This article is a throw back to another age. It contains so many stereotypes about adopted adults and birth parents.

I say, more in sorrow than in anger, that you do your readers a disservice by publishing things like this.

If I were to write a post on my blog that said that Catholics were misguided and brain-washed, I don’t think you would be too happy. Ms Hess Saxton has done the equivalent with respect to birth families, adoptees and I suspect some adopted parents.

It is always a mistake to assume one can extrapolate from the particular and personal to the general and the norm. [Ms Hess Saxton is an adoptive mother.]

If I did that, based on what I heard about my son’s adoptive experience after we were reunited, I would be making similar derogatory remarks to the ones Ms. Hess Saxton has made, only they would be about adoptive parents.

You state she is going to write another article, I think she is biased and should perhaps find another subject which she can approach with a little more objectivity.

Thanks for the opportunity to respond.

The editor then posted this:

  1. Mary Kochan says:
    November 13th, 2008 at 7:24 am unsignedmasterpiece and all: I thank all of you for your comments. Heidi Saxton is an adoptive parent. She has shown great willingness to listen and to incorporate new information into another article — which I will be happy to publish. While we are all, writer, editor, and readers, willing to learn here, I take exception to the idea that we shouldn’t have published this article, or that she shouldn’t write another one just because some people are unhappy with the contents of the first. We are Catholic around here, in case you didn’t notice, and we believe in personal growth, learning, the humility to recognize mistakes and the opportunity to make reparation.Civil comments that are made with the recognition of Heidi’s good will in this matter and that do not stoop to personal attacks will continue to be welcomed here. But posters to the comboxes aren’t taking over editorial control of this website — thanks anyway.

    Mary Kochan, Senior Editor, Catholic Exchange

It’s interesting that she does not view what Hess Saxton has written as personal attacks. I felt a little attacked as a birth mother. If I were an adopted person, I’d feel a little slagged.

I wonder what Jesus would say about all this? I wonder how He views Heidi’s “goodwill”?

I suspect He’s on to her.

Here’s the whole thing.

Peace – don’t let it ruin your day. Our time is coming.


Anti-Adoption Advocates – How Should We Respond?

Now that the election is over, one of the most chilling prospects of the future administration is the president-elect’s determination to sign the “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA). The implications of this — both financial and moral — are staggering, for it means our tax dollars may be used to snuff out the lives of millions of children. To be truly pro-life, then, is to seek ways to ensure that the need for abortion is eliminated, as far as we are able to do this.

Adoption gives those in crisis pregnancies an abortion alternative that saves the life of the child and relieves them of the unwanted responsibility of parenthood. Adoption also provides an opportunity for couples to have a child they might otherwise never have, and for the child to have a “forever family” that will love him or her for life.

child.jpgWith foster-adoption, children who have already been born — often to parents with such serious issues that the children may have been better off had the “adoption option” been chosen from the beginning — are given a second chance. Sadly, many of these children — especially those who are part of sibling group, have special needs, or are “older” (four or more) — must wait months and even years for a loving, permanent home. There are simply not enough suitable families willing to open their hearts this way.

The situation would be dire enough … Now grass roots, anti-adoption advocacy groups such as “Bastard Nation” and “Adoption: Legalized Ties” are seeking to discourage adoption, choosing rather to advocate for disgruntled adult adoptees and “natural parents,” including those whose children were taken from them because of abuse and neglect.

Anti-Adoption Advocates: Biased “Truth”

The dynamic of adoption is often described as a “triad,” with 3 sides representing the birth (or first) parents, adoptive parents, and adopted child. By and large, anti-adoption groups have vilified both adoptive parents and the agencies that mediate the placements.

Recently, however, the attack has expanded to birth parents as well: Under the “Unsealed Initiative,” adult adoptees and others are lobbying government agencies in New York and other states (successfully, in Toronto) to release sealed birth records in order to gain access to the identities of birth parents who may not desire contact, and who were promised anonymity upon relinquishment. In the minds of the adult adoptees, the “best interest of the child” trumps all — when in fact the “child” is no longer a child, but an adult whose “right to know” is no more important than the other party’s right to privacy.

This growing trend is even more alarming, given the unabashed pro-abortion stance of the Obama administration. Women in crisis pregnancies who are considering adoption may have second thoughts when faced with the very real possibility that their “past” may come knocking on their door twenty or thirty years hence, disrupting their lives with demands and recriminations. Unless the records are truly sealed with a “suite lock” — one that can be opened only by mutual consent — the real danger is that these “unwanted” children will simply be aborted.

Catholic Anti-Adoption Advocates

Recently I was appalled to discover that these “anti-adoption advocates” are making inroads even in Catholic publications. Last September the National Catholic Register ran this article (accessed through my EMN blog) by self-professed “anti-adoption advocate” Melinda Selmys, who writes about encountering teenage adoptees who were acting out — though the adoptive parents were “kind and loving people.”

Rather than consider the real possibility that the teens had been damaged by circumstances that led up to the adoption, or that adoption may indeed have been their best chance at a bright future, or that these kids were just like others teens who have difficulties making the transition into adulthood, Selmys concludes that the adoption itself was the true source of the problem. She writes:

The child … is not a tabula rasa on which anyone – parents, teachers, social workers, engineers of brave new worlds – can inscribe their glowing hopes for the future. … The child is created in the image and likeness of God, but it is also in the image and likeness of its parents. The people who hope to see evil eradicated from the world through increasing government intervention in the lives of children are going to be sorely disappointed. Children do not inherit their faults and failings merely by watching and imitating mom and dad. They inherit them on a much deeper level.

Healing the Wounded Heart

Now, much of what Ms. Selmys says sounds reasonable. Foster and adoptive parents are well aware that our children have challenges and issues originating with their “first families” — behavioral, mental, emotional, and medical among them. Sometimes it’s genetic. Other times challenges come from the child’s pre-adoptive environment, not a blank slate … a heart wounded by bad choices and negative impulses of broken people.

It is also true that no adoptive environment is “perfect” — just as no parent is perfect. Ideally, children thrive best when they are raised by their natural parents, joined for life in the sacrament of matrimony. Sadly, as a society we have fallen woefully short of this ideal, and the only question that remains is how to mitigate the damage inflicted on innocent young lives.

There are situations in which adoption is truly the best (though not perfect) choice: Children born to young teens (especially those who have neither the inner resources nor long-term support system necessary to parent); children of parents with unresolved substance abuse or domestic violence issues; and children of abusive and neglectful parents. In each of these cases, little wounded hearts heal best when they are no longer in close proximity to the source of the pain. Sadly, this can mean removing children from birth parents voluntarily or (when parents demonstrate neither the willingness nor the inclination to fix their own messes and put the children’s needs first) involuntarily.

Adoption gives children wounded by the choices of their first parents a second chance to heal. Granted, it does not completely shield the child from the consequences of her first parents’ choices. There is no way to shield the child entirely — that is the nature of sin. On the other hand, pressuring unwed teenage mothers (and other at-risk mothers) to keep their babies even when they are demonstrably not capable of parenting produces more difficulties than it resolves — down the line, when adoption is no longer a viable option.

Adoption, the “Pro-Life” Option

The sad reality is that the older the child, the smaller the pool of potential adoptive parents. In the U.S. today, more than 500,000 children are in need of temporary or permanent homes … the vast majority are part of larger sibling groups, special needs, or “older” (age four or more).

Because the pain of adoption is real, the adoption choice represents true self-sacrifice on all sides of the adoption triad: Birth parents put the best interests of the child ahead of their own needs, adoptive parents agree to invest themselves entirely in a young life they did not bring into the world. The child may also suffer in ways they cannot fully understand until they are much older — and may have difficulties accepting even then. And yet, when the choice is literally life and death, this kind of self-sacrifice is the pathway to hope … if we allow it.

Will these mothers come to regret their choice? Undoubtedly there will be times when they will wonder if they could have chosen differently. They may yearn to re-establish contact with that child — and should be able to leave the door open for this, should the child (ideally, with the blessings of the adoptive parent) seek her out. But as with many significant choices in life, once the choice is made we cannot see clearly “the road not taken”; because of the unknown variables that stem from that choice, it is illusory at best. We can only learn from our choices, and move on.

On the other hand, through adoption (even open adoption, in which the birth parents maintain a level of contact after the placement), a child is helped to make the most of their own natural giftings and eradicate the worst of their natural weaknesses. The birth parent is then able to tend to his or her needs without inflicting even greater damage on the innocent. And the adoptive parents are presented with an opportunity to invest their lives in a way that produces rich spiritual fruit in the life of parent and child alike.

In Search of the “Phantom Parent”

Books such as The Adoption Mystique, by anti-adoption advocate Joanne Wolf Small, MSW, remind us that some children never completely recover from the losses of adoption — no matter how much love and attention they are given. The sense of abandonment can run deep, and visions of “real” mom and dad can tantalize even the most outwardly accommodating child — especially those in the throes of adolescence and into young adulthood, when the natural desire to separate from Mom and Dad is most powerful, and the quest for identity strongest.

While the release of some information — such as medical histories — has objective value, and could be released without depriving the first parents of their right to privacy, it is imperative that the concerns of all three sides of the adoption triad be given equal weight. Birth parents have the right to remain anonymous (unless they choose to relinquish that right); adoptive parents have the right to raise their child without undue interference; the adopted child has the right to a safe and nurturing environment. The adult adopted child has the rights of any adult — but not access to the confidential records of other private citizens.

In the section entitled “Anti-Adoption Media Bias,” Ms. Small offers a revealing quote from “The San Francisco Examiner” (1999, February 22):

Anguish is everywhere in the adoption equation …. The birth mother … adoptive parents …. Adopted children haunted by phantom birth parents who, they may feel “abandoned” them – beings … they cannot know. Phantom limbs on the family tree (par 10).

At age eleven, my younger sister experienced phantom pains when her leg was amputated. The nerves at the amputation site, which connected the missing leg to the brain, did not immediately die. And yet, Chris did not let the amputation define her or limit her in any way, and in time these pains diminished. She became first a cheerleader, then a wife and mother. If she had chosen to concentrate on the pain — instead of healing — she would be a very different person today.

I realized just how complete the healing had been when, a few years ago, an over-zealous “street healer” offered to pray for her leg to grow back and she refused. “When I get to heaven, I’m going to get my leg back — and you better believe I’m looking forward to that. But right now, for whatever reason, this is God’s plan for me, and I’m going to accept it. I’m not going to feel sorry for myself — I’m going to live.”

Wise words that can be applied to many situations — including adoption. The “phantom pain” of adoption must be acknowledged — and yet, reunification may not always be possible or even desirable. The adopted child must recognize the reality of the adoption triad; each part of the triangle of birth parent/adoptive parent/adopted child has both rights and responsibilities, some of which cannot be assumed by the child until he or she becomes an adult.

It is in adulthood that many children — adopted and biological alike — discover something essential to their future happiness: Some things in life are chosen for us by the adults in our lives, based on the information at hand, which have both positive and negative repercussions. If we continue to blame our parents for those choices, we remain in a state of “arrested adolescence” and keep ourselves from realizing our God-given potential. This is true of adult children of adoption — and of many other children, too.

We cannot change history; we can only acknowledge and learn from it, grieve our losses, forgive those who have hurt us … and move forward. The loss adopted children experience is real — just as my sister’s loss was real. She had to work through those feelings; the loss was necessary if she was to survive. This is the story of adoption: a story of painful choices made in the present, in order to secure a better — and a living — future.

Heidi Hess Saxton is the author of “Raising Up Mommy” and founder of the Extraordinary Moms Network, an online resource for mothers of adopted, fostered, and special needs children. She and her husband foster-adopted their two children in 2002.

8 Responses to This is what we’re up against my friends …

  1. Good god, that Mary Kochan is a real piece of work… I don’t think that you were attacking Helen at all. You were raising valid questions and exposing glaring flaws in her logic. Instead of actually addressing your points and continuing a dialogue this editor seems to be acting like a control freak who’s stuck in 1973 when the media was more of a one way street…

    I could go on and on about this… but I’ll be civil and stop here! :)

    Great blog!!! You’re in my reader!

  2. Margie says:

    Being Catholic I must first hang my head in shame for that post.

    *hangs head in shame*

    I added a comment, it’s not up yet but we’ll see. What is most disturbing to me about that post is that it is an attitude that many Catholics – but not all of us – share, in spite of the fact that statistics prove the “facts” she threw around were simply false.


  3. The Improper Adoptee says:

    Trust me, Jesus will get her. I hope He throws her in a realm, wiping out all memory of who she is to herself, and she then spends eternity wanting to know who her parents are, aching too… then over and over again, sees her OBC floating in front of her eyes and just as she is about to grab it, so she can see their names, it evaporates….:)Ignorance is bliss, huh Heidi?….

  4. maybe says:

    I wonder if Hess is her maiden name? Interesting that she uses her original name, but would deny that same right to adoptees. She won’t even allow them to KNOW their original name.

  5. suz says:

    Will forever be curious to me why Catholics dont support family preservation? I realize their God needs money but is he infertile too? Shooting blanks? Does he need money and babies?

    I read the article and did not bother commenting. I am quite confident it would be delteed. I have nothing nice or supportive to say about Catholics who pave tehir way to the pearly gates with traumatized wounded souls of mother and child.

  6. jim says:

    Funny, my comments to this article, which appeared on several sites, were all deleted or did not show up at all. I guess I need to work on tempering my outrage.

  7. chowchow22 says:

    I read that prittle prattle. I had no idea that catholics felt that way and were so judgemental besides.

  8. Allen Taylor says:

    Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

    Allen Taylor

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