Friday, June 7, 2013

Open Letter to a Hospital Social Worker

Dear Hospital Social Worker:
Today you helped seal the fate of a baby who had a chance at a good life. You also participated in breaking the hearts of a family and their son, awaiting a brother. You have no idea what you've done because you don't know the history of the people you are manipulating.  Four months ago, a woman in crisis called for help because she had nowhere to live, no family support, no income, three kids, and she was pregnant. She wanted an abortion. Perhaps we shouldn't have talked her out of it, but we did. She was given some options and she chose adoption. She chose a lovely family and they helped her get on her feet, get a place to stay, and feed her kids. Her own family had kicked her out more than once. She was 41 and has bounced from place to place her whole life due to drug use and familial problems.  Her large family won't help, but they criticize a lot and tell her she's worthless.  You don't know this because you weren't involved.  The adoptive parents talked to her almost daily and she shared a lot. She shared that she had a previous problem with drugs and that she had a warrant out for her arrest because of it.  She had failed to appear in court.  She appeared to be using speed.  A plan was made that after having the baby, she would go in and handle the warrant and try to get her life back on track.  To that end, it was arranged for her to go to a sober living home with two of her three children.  She agreed and felt that was a good plan that the court would applaud.  That was all paid for by the adoptive parents.  They wanted her to succeed.  They knew there was a chance that the child would be born drug-exposed, but they were willing to take him anyway and to help his mother.  They offered to skype, send pictures, and visit with him over time, so that she would feel that she was still a part of his life.  That was incredibly generous of them.  You weren't there for that either.

We arranged for her to be taken to doctor visits, other errands, and for food.  I personally drove hundreds of miles taking her where she needed to go.  We helped her with job searches and arranged for her to be in a 12 step program. Several organizations and multiple individuals helped  financially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  We moved her and her kids.  I didn't see you there helping.  All the while she told the adoptive parents how wonderful they were and how grateful she was that they were there for her when her family wasn't. Her family turned their back on her and her own mother told her she would never get a job and that she was worthless.  Meanwhile, several social service organizations, the adoptive parents, myself, and others found ways to help her, taking care of her and making sure she had a plan for the future so that she could support the children she already has. Their life has been hell, moving from place to place, leaving friends, and not having necessities. She knew that she didn't want that for this baby.  She didn't have a home to take him to.

Last night, she told the adoptive mom to have adoptive dad and big brother get on a plane so that they could take the baby today when she was being released from the hospital. You weren't there. We questioned her at that time and asked if she was sure, so that another child wouldn't have his heart broken.  She stated emphatically that she had made a commitment and even though her family wasn't on board, she was going to keep her commitment.  Her family had pressured her to keep the baby, even though they had thrown her out when she was pregnant and told her to abort.  They insisted "no more kids".  This morning, she told the adoptive parents to bring up the car seat and she sat down with the state mandated ASP worker, who is her advocate in the adoption, and signed all the papers.  She didn't waver. You weren't there.

Then you went into the room.  45 minutes later when you emerged, she had changed her mind.  Do you realize that by talking her out of the adoption, this baby will suffer and may be in danger?  She was overheard on the phone telling someone, "they wouldn't give me the Vicodin, but I know someone who can get me pain medication".  You wouldn't let anyone back in the room to talk to her, even to verify that it was HER decision.  You went so far as to make sure armed guards didn't let anyone near her -- the people who had helped her all those months were told to leave.  All along, for months, the plan was the same and she was solid in her desire to do right by her baby and to build a future for her other children.  You are sending her home to live with a dozen other family members in a small one story, three bedroom house where there isn't even enough room for beds for the children and the adults are on air mattresses. Yes, the same one she was kicked out of just a few weeks ago.  You see, her family can't tolerate her for long.  Her mother is overbearing and wants to control.  Her sister is the same.  It's the sister's house. They butt heads until someone has to go and it's always her.  This has been a pattern and the children have suffered as a result, changing homes in the middle of the night, sleeping at the homes of other random people, some drug users, and out on the street.  They watch as their mother does what she has to do to feed them.  They hear it all.  The youngest asked to go with the adoptive mom instead of having to go with his grandmother.  It's all very heartbreaking.  But you weren't there for that either.

There is so much more history and drama in the family that you can't possibly begin to understand what you don't know.  And yet, you forced your will.  How selfish is it to assume that you know what's best for this woman or anyone?  How tragic is it that you altered the life of a little one who could have had a home and a life and opportunities for an education?  Instead, he will be like his brothers.  No preschool, different schools -- several per school year -- and no chance at a higher education.  Now that will make four generations of welfare grads.  You did a disservice not only to this child, but to his mother.  She had a chance to get out of the chaos.  You have sentenced her to a life of addiction.  She would have been able to have a place to live while she got clean and sober, a chance at a decent job and, subsequently, the ability to make a home for her two minor children.  She would have had ongoing support.  She will likely now end up, at some point, being arrested for her warrant.  Her kids may end up with the state or, worse yet, with her family.  The adoptive parents were inconsolable.  They didn't blame her.  They knew you pressured her.  We all did.  They have stated that what this cost them both financially and emotionally won't allow them to adopt again.  She wasn't pressured to place her baby.  She made that decision on her own and she sought out adoptive parents. She was pressured by you to parent and you manipulated her feelings and made her feel like a horrible mom.  In fact, she was being a good mom and providing something more for her child.  You have your own agenda. You didn't see her crying when you left the room.  You didn't see the adoptive parents sobbing in the hallway.  You weren't there when a 6'5" man bent down to try to explain to an 8 year old that the child that the birth mom introduced him to as "your little brother" wasn't coming home, all while crying.  What you did was unprofessional, unethical, and aggressive. If you can sleep tonight, you have no soul.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How Will You Find Me?

I am often asked by adoptive parents, "How do I tell my child he/she is adopted?".  My answer is, you don't make an event of it.  From an early age, you talk to your child about how your family was born.  If your child is from China, you talk about your excitement of going there and finding her.  If your child was placed into your arms by a birth mother, you talk about how she came to the decision and how she picked you and that it was a loving, thoughtful choice.  Each child will have a different adoption story.  How do you start?  I think the earlier the better, so you start by reading a bedtime story.  For that reason, I wrote a book specifically for this purpose.  How Will You Find Me? is a book designed for young children.  Through the magic of animal families, a child can learn that there's more than one way to build a family.  At the end, it asks the question, "How DID you find me?"  Each family can then share their adoption story with their child in a natural progression of the book.  In this way, a child can learn early on how they came into their family and what a joy their parents felt when they came home.  Years later, when someone asks them, "How did you find out you were adopted?", they can answer, "I always knew".

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Adoption, Abortion, and Elections

It's been a long time since I've blogged!  I guess I got out of the habit of writing something every week and perhaps had exhausted my range of topics.  The topic I am going to discuss today is going to be controversial, but I think it bears some thought, especially as to how it relates to adoption.  I hate politics, although I'm glued to the national conventions as if they were train wrecks...oh, they are!  Are we better off than we were four years ago?  I haven't met anyone who thinks so.  How has the past four years affected adoption?  President Obama is pro-abortion.  The number of abortions is way up.  That is one part of the equation.  Then there is the economy.  Women who previously would have tried to parent and then eventually decided on adoption as a better option are figuring out very early in the pregnancy that they won't be able to parent due to financial constraints.  It's so early that they can justify making a decision for abortion and they are, thus, aborting (in record numbers). Fewer babies, lower birth rate, higher abortions...well that all equates to less babies for adoption.

I know there are many women who don't want their abortion "rights" taken away.  Mitt Romney is pro-life and so is Paul Ryan.  That doesn't mean they will even be able to change the law, as congress has a say.  Just because they get elected doesn't mean that abortions will cease to exist in this country.  I'm not sure that will ever happen.  But it would be nice to limit them and it would be beneficial to women to understand better what is happening when a baby is aborted.  Planned Parenthood would call it "products of conception" or "pregnancy tissue".  They don't call it "pregnancy tissue" when it pops out screaming and wiggling.  "Products of conception" ARE babies.

I am not condemning women who choose abortion.  I think only God can do that.  However, I praise women who have the courage to deliver a baby that wasn't planned and place it in the arms of another woman who may have fertility issues.  That is a gift few people can give -- the gift of life.  I think that's a much more healthy (physically, emotionally, and medically) way to handle an unplanned pregnancy.  Just because a baby is a surprise doesn't mean the child isn't a blessing.  Please consider all this when you vote in this November's Presidential election.  There are hundreds of thousands of souls counting on you.

Friday, January 20, 2012

"Planned" Parenthood

I am always stunned by the notion that abortion is safe and that women are better for having the "right" to do it.  Abortion is detrimental to women in so many ways.  If a woman physically survives the abortion of her baby, she then has to live with the emotional scars it leaves.  Whether a woman is affected immediately or later on, when she has children and realizes that one of them has died at her hands, she suffers emotional trauma.  While a few men experience the trauma of losing a child, they don't ever have the guilt that comes from knowing they have actually done it themselves.  I've counseled women in the past who have stated that they can never forgive themselves after years of anxiety about going through with an abortion.  That is a heavy price to pay.

The Journal Lancet recently published a study on abortion and shared the following facts; Abortion rates are lower in Western Europe, where 12 of every 1,000 pregnancies are aborted, in contrast to the United States, where 19 of every 1,000 pregnancies are aborted.  Globally, the rate is 28 out of every 1,000 babies die of abortion.  Nearly 50,000 women a year die from complications of abortion.  That seems like an outrageous number until you realize that nearly 45 MILLION babies are aborted annually.  The fact is, there are no safe abortions.  Abortion risks the life of the mother and takes the life of a child.  Planned Parenthood talks about the "products of conception" or "pregnancy tissue", rather than using the term "baby" or "life", when in fact, there is a life in there.  There is a beating heart.  And recently, children as early as 24 weeks have survived with minor complications, when they could legally be aborted at that stage.  In my opinion, that is just disgusting.  I'm all about birth control and planned pregnancies.  But when that goes awry, a life is created and should be nurtured.  There is no shame in not being able to parent at any given time.  Turn a negative situation into a positive gift.  Give life, then give the gift of a lifetime to someone who really wants a family and has the ability to parent.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Adoptive parents want to be able to share their child's adoption story in a way that isn't traumatic or sensationalistic.  Using a book or two to open the conversation and plant the seed so that they can explain their own child's presence in their family and how they got there is one of the ways to do that.  Very young children can grasp the concept when told in simple terms how they became a part of their family.  "Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born" by Jamie Lee Curtis opens the door to discussion about adoption and how it came to be.  It talks about the phone call, the excitement, the plane flight, the hospital, and many firsts.  It provides an opportunity to talk about each of the aspects of that exciting time with the child and to provide the details of his or her specific birth and adoption.  It should be a part of every adopted child's library and can be purchased through on this site.  Along those lines, we will have another story book coming out very soon that deals with the same topic in poem form, with an animal perspective.  I would love to hear if anyone has books that they recommend to help a child adapt to the concept of adoption.  A child should never be able to say "I was told I was adopted when I was (a certain age) ...", citing the precise moment they found out. They should be able to say that they have always known they were adopted for as long as they could remember. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Adoption Services or Baby Selling?

As an adoption professional, we network with other adoption facilitators, agencies, and attorneys in order to locate families or birth mothers for specific situations.  With the recent rise in abortion rates and drop in the national birth rate, there have been fewer situations overall for everyone.  I think that is responsible for some desperation in the adoption world.  Lately, I have been stunned at some of the e-mails that have arrived in my in box.  Typically, the birth mothers have their choice of families (as it should be), but a recent e-mail outlined a situation with an agency in which a Caucasian baby boy was being placed for adoption.  After a mind-boggling list of exorbitant expenses, the child could be had for a mere $42,000.00.  I am baffled.  How is this not baby selling?  Is it simply because an agency is offering the situation?  The note insinuated that anyone interested and prepared to pay the fees could have the closed situation.  Another e-mail offered a special needs baby for a fee of $32,000.00.  Since when did we put a price tag on infants?  While I am well aware that there are legitimate expenses including agency expenses and fees, and some potential birth mother expenses (none of those fees were for medical, by the way), these fees are way out of the ballpark.  In the past, we have charged zero for special needs situations, just as a means to find a good family for a hard to place infant.  That someone would charge such obviously inflated fees to families willing to take on a challenge is amazing to me.  Why does it seem that adoption has become so outrageously expensive?  Every agency and facilitator I know is struggling with the downturn in the number of adoptions, but fees up into the 40K and 50K range that used to be unheard of are becoming all too common.  We need to have some national adoption laws because leaving it up to the states has been a fiasco.  Adoptive parents in Indiana don't have the same rights as adoptive parents in California, and birth mothers in Pennsylvania and Ohio aren't able to get the support that those in Nebraska or Missouri do.  We won't even talk about birth father rights in Utah since they are basically non-existant.  I think caps on the amounts that can be charged need to be in place, as well as some uniform laws about offering situations on line for specific fees.  All agencies have or can locate families to adopt if fees are reasonable.  There is no need for a baby to go to the highest bidder.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

APGAR Scores - What are they?

When a baby is born, there is an assessment made by the doctor or nurses attending the baby.  A score is given for each of five categories to determine the health of the baby.  Typically, the assessment is made right away and again five minutes later.  So, you may see an APGAR score of 8/9, meaning the first and second assessment.  The top APGAR score is a 10.  Most babies don't achieve that on the first assessment, but if the scores are on the higher end, then things are looking good.  Here is how APGARS are scored.

A = ACTIVITY (or muscle tone)
G = GRIMACE (or reflex irritability/response)
A = APPEARANCE (or skin color)
R = RESPIRATION (breathing)

When assessing each category a score of 0, 1, or 2 is given, ie:

ACTIVITY - Absent = 0, Arms & Legs flexed = 1, and Active Movement = 2
PULSE - Absent = 0, Below 100 beats per minute (bpm) = 1, Above 100 bpm = 2
GRIMACE - No response = 0, Grimace = 1,  Sneezes, coughs, or pulls away = 2
APPEARANCE - Blue/gray, pale all over = 0, Normal except for extremities = 1, Normal all over = 2
RESPIRATION - Absent = 0, Slow/irregular breathing = 1, Good breath, crying = 2

After a child is born and the nurse has taken the baby to the warmer or the nursery, these tests are performed and a score is assigned.  If a child is born not breathing, he or she may have a very low APGAR at first.  Once the baby has been resuscitated, the APGAR will be considerably better, although it may take more than 5 minutes for the baby to completely pink up and have good reflexes.

It is important for the caregivers to immediately assess the newborn in order to provide proper care and make sure that the baby is healthy and, if assistance is needed, provide breathing or other support.  For adoptive parents, waiting in the hall or even if they are in the room during delivery, it may feel a little like looking into a fishbowl, from the outside looking in, and wondering what is going on.  Now, when you hear what your baby's APGAR Score is, you'll know how to interpret it and why it's so important for the medical professionals to obtain it.