Month: March 2010

Adoption practice: “What is coercion?”

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“What is coercion?”  This question was asked recently in an adoption-related forum, by someone unfamiliar with the idea that mothers may not want to surrender their babies for adoption.  Someone who has meekly accepted adoption industry brainwashing and never questioned the notion that mothers’ don’t willingly abandon their children hither, thither, and yon.

Ever since the Post World-War II demand for newborn infants arose, and the social work profession decided to meet that demand by taking the babies of vulnerable mothers, coercion has formed a large part of adoption practice.  You can read all about it in many pages on the internet.  Origins Canada has a collection of articles about coercion, including the coercion checklist I created from the true experiences of mothers I had got to know in support groups.   You can also read about Baby Scoop Era practices in the U.S. and what excuses baby brokers used for their abuse of mothers and abduction of infants.  You can pick up a copy of Ann Fessler’s book  The Girls Who Went Away and read first-hand accounts from the mothers incarcerated in maternity prisons, which were little more than baby farms, who knew they would never be allowed to leave with their babies.   Or you can read mothers’ stories  on the Exiled Mothers and Origins Canada sites.    You can look at the many years of research, the millions of dollars in federal tax money, put towards inventing new methods to separate mothers from their beloved newborn infants:  techniques such as open adoption, taking mothers away from their support system and putting them into maternity homes because it will more than double the rate of surrender (Namerow, Kalmuss, & Cushman, 1993), and research in which blindfolded regressed “volunteers” were forced to relive the trauma of their surrender in order to find out what coercion worked best.  One of these volunteers committed suicide after her experience.

But what is a good one or two sentence definition that sums of what constitutes coercion in adoption practice?  I thought it may be useful to invite feedback on one such possible definition:

“Coercion” includes any practice  specifically designed  and intended to either ensure — or  significantly increase the odds —  that a mother will surrender her baby for adoption.

“Coercion” describes any practice designed to remove a mother’s freedom of choice by the use of influence, persuasion, fraud, or duress. A coerced “choice’ is not a “choice” at all.

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Update:  This article, from March 2010, ends with a proposed possible definition of coercion.  This short description was taken and expanded upon in a later article:  “The Definition of Adoption Coercion.

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An “Apology” for Abduction

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News came out yesterday about an Australian state apologizing to mothers who were forcibly raped of their newborn babies by baby brokers (in this case the Australian gov’t) and their hospital collaborators.   On a positive note, it is good the the perpetrators are recognizing that what they did to us (yes, same process here in Canada) was wrong, and they had no right to take and withhold babies from mothers.  But would YOU as a mother accept just an apology if YOUR baby had been abducted against your will??

NEWS:  ‘Sorry’ over babies taken from unwed mothers

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Fri Mar 5, 2010 11:02am AEDT

The West Australian Government is set to become the first to publicly apologise to mothers who were unlawfully separated from their babies after giving birth out of wedlock.

The Health Minister, Kim Hames, says he is preparing to read the apology in State Parliament and he wants to see a memorial created for the families affected by the welfare practices during the 1940s to the 1980s.

Dr Hames says in hindsight the practice was cruel.

“What’s happened is that the woman came forward with stories that were very sad and while the practices of the time were seen as appropriate, in the best interests of the mother and the child, when you look back on them they were particularly harsh and these women are still suffering as a result of those practices.”

The Opposition spokesman on Health, Roger Cook, says the apology should be made by the Premier.

“Labor commends the Government for this important gesture to the woman and children who have had their children adopted out over many years but Labor believes that if the Government is genuine in its apology it should be the Premier, not one of his ministers, that comes forward with the apology on behalf of the West Australian people.”

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Transcript of the audio clip at http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/05/2837450.htm of the interview

Dr Hames:  This started last year when i did an interview and offered to apology on behalf government to women who’d been traumatized by the past adoption procedures.  This happened in public and private hospitals, not just in government hospitals. But what’s happened is that the women came forward with stories that were very sad, and while the practices of the time were seen as appropriate and the best interests of the mother and the child, when you look on back at them now they’re particularly harsh, and those women are still suffering as a result of those practices.

So I intend to do something to try to resolve that and the process will probably be that we’ll have a small memorial somewhere to recognize the suffering. and i will do a ministerial statement in Parliament .. comments to to apologize for the suffering those women have been through where government was involved.

Reporter:  Dr. Hames, Will that apology carry any compensation?

Dr. Hames: No it won’t.  And the women who have come and spoken to me about that have not suggestd that they’re seeking any commentsation.  Tt’s really something to go thru the trauma, in fact, last year when I did this, women who’d come forward then Were very happy with my response and i wrote letters to them. In fact the Edward hospital did also, apologizing that those harsh practices that were seen as appropriate had caused so much pain and suffering.

Reporter:  Dr. Hames, it’s hard to believe that these practice were still continuing through the 70s and 80s.

Dr, Hanes:  Well, it went for a long period of time, and in fact I spoke to one woman who seemed to have slipped through the net and at 15 was still treated in a way that was not appropriate for the day.

Nowadays it is a much more reasonable procedure where women wish to give up their child for adoption, where there is a “cooling off period” when women are able to be in their child.  The practice of those day was that the baby upon delivery was immediately taken away, no family members were able to have contact, mother or immediate family.  They never saw that child again. and that was very sad and very hard for thow women to come to terms with the fact that they never even got to touch their own child.

Reporter: Is a public apology going to suffice?

Dr. Hames: Well, it’s what there is, it’s what i’ve been asked for.  The women haven’t come seeking money or seeking anything else. They’ve come seeking an apology. And while this wasnt’ just government obviously, and it was accepted practice of the day, if the women feel an apology will assist in their recovery, there is no reason why I should not give one.”

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