An interview conducted by freelance journalist Bonnie Sumner with her mother Barbara who was forcibly adopted as a baby, explores her lived experience of non consensual adoption and her belief that the adoption system is built upon a series of myths and fabrications.
The discussion between mother and daughter looks at the history of forced adoption in New Zealand during the fifties through to the seventies. Barbara mentions that more than 100,000 women had their babies taken from them during this period, with many women telling her that their babies had been “removed directly from their wombs and hidden in a separate part of the hospital.”
The stats for the number of adoptions during this period, as Barbara explains, means that a significant number of people in the country today have a link to the adoption process, making the phenomenon a part of the social fabric in New Zealand.
The interview is heartbreaking, but a must-read for anyone interested in the nuances of adoption. While not everyone’s experience of adoption is the same, at Researching Reform we are aware that many children in the UK who have been adopted have struggled with this part of their life journey, which continues to impact them long after the adoption takes place.
Of the adoption process, Barbara says, “The idea that adoption is a win-win is a form of state sanctioned gaslighting. We rarely consider it as commoditising a child. We’re told that one set of arms is as good as another, and that a pre-verbal child does not experience anything.”
“We hold onto the idea that a mother without support is making a selfless sacrifice. We’re told we’re gifts. Or that the womb is a benign place that does not impact on the child; that once a baby is taken from their mother there is no connection.Then there’s the idea that you are lucky and must be grateful because the myth says your mum didn’t want you,” she adds.
Barbara also sees the adoption process essentially as the commoditisation of children to satisfy demand. “Another [idea] is that you’re chosen when in fact you were just the next on a conveyer belt of children removed from their mothers to meet a market demand. Adopters often say you were really wanted but what they wanted was their own child – you were ‘a’ child not ‘the’ child. I think this is an important distinction.”
Bonnie’s mother, who is an award winning columnist, has written a book about her experience of adoption. Barbara says in the interview with her daughter that she needed to write the book to find her voice.
She goes on to say that in the process of trying to discover her past, her adoptive mother severed all ties with Barbara after being invited to go on the journey with her.
While these periods of discovery for adopted individuals must be deeply painful for adoptive parents, it is essential that these carers stand by their children when they make these journeys of self discovery.
And while we feel adoption must always be the method of last resort, when adoptions have to take place, prospective parents need to be fully aware of the awesome responsibility that goes with loving an adopted child. This process is not for the faint of heart.
You can buy Barbara’s book, “Tree of Strangers” which is a little on the expensive side at £26.99 (though it is also available on Kindle for £8.99 if you have the app), on Amazon or at Foyles.
Goodreads also has reviews of the book, and includes one review submitted by an adoptee. The book was published on 10 September, 2020.
You can follow Barbara on Twitter @barbara_sumner
Often it’s not adoption at all. You are adopted into slavery. Sex slavery and other forms of slavery. It’s a crime.Â 12:07 AM, 15 October 2020, Researching Reform <email@example.com>:
Natasha posted: ” An interview conducted by freelance journalist Bonnie Sumner with her mother Barbara who was forcibly adopted as a baby, explores her lived experience of non consensual adoption and her belief that the adoption system is built upon a series of myths and “
The whole concept of Adoption is built on myths. There are no winners, only losers. The pain, heartache, loss and personal identification confusion are all the things that are never mentioned as they seem too much of a tabboo subject. The lies perpertrated by those initiating the initial adoption and then again those same lies with the addition of lies to protect adopters and adoptees being carried through to the childs adult years are a major cause for the high rate of forced adoptions and the breakdowns. If the scale of the real truths were made public would render the whole adoption process mute.
Adoption is built on lies. It is supposed to be for the children but it’s never been that. Adoption is simply to fill a void, a yearning, in the adoptive parents lives. Of course if they have never had children they will have their perception of what their lives will be like & the reality is very different. It is not necessarily the adoptive parents fault that adoption fails but it does fail.
Psychologists have known of the trauma experienced by the adopted child & this was written about in The Primal Wound. The adopted child is damaged by the process of removing the child from the mother.
More recently, An American study http://www.ifstudies.org The Paradox of Adoption by Nicholas Zill echos those previous findings. ECLS-K study show that despite the adoptive parents being more affluent & caring the children didn’t fare well In all sorts of behaviours & ages. Lots of theory’s have been cited why this should be so but maybe its as simple as being apart from their biological family. Needless to say that is not mentioned. Not in their interest to do so.
Adoption is the perfect storm for mental trauma in the child & unhappiness for adoptive parents. So it begs the question, why continue to adopt children when it doesn’t benefit them & actually harms them? Why is this state sanctioned abuse of children accepted as standard practice?
Interestingly, it may be just down to cost. It’s cheaper & less of a burden to the government via taxpayers to adopt the children rather than raise them in Care. Institutions, foster homes or Stranger Special Guardians cost a lot more! Money has been earned by many different parties, taking the children away from their parents & the government doesn’t want to have to pay for their keep. Isn’t that the reason why boat loads of children from the care system in the UK were shipped to Australia. The land of Oranges & Sunshine. We are just going around in circles.
Love Child was an Australian tv series set in the 60s -70s which centred around the heinous practice of forced adoption. Many women now in their 60s still feel the pain of that experience. Children were hurt in the process.
Forced adoption was deemed the right thing to do in the bad circumstances & the practice wasn’t confined to Australia. Australia has apologised for the part it’s played.
Shipping kids off to be looked after without due diligence was U.K. Government sanctioned.
We still promote forced adoption & dress it up by saying it’s court ordered. No! Its decided by social workers & legally stamped by a Judge who removes all parental responsibility. There is no difference to what happened in bygone years. Shameful it continues, despite the research & experiences of those involved to say put a stop to forced adoption once and for all.
Ian Josephs said:
Adoption is a wonderful thing if truly voluntary but it is a wicked crime when it is forced on a parent or parents desperate to keep the baby or child in question;Those who are involved in the snatching of babies at birth from sane law abiding mothers have no excuses and should be jailed for a very long time.
Judges who order this on the pretext of crystal ball predictions of future emotional harm are themselves criminals who should join the snatchers in jail for crimes against humanity.
After all police will rightly arrest you if you commit a crime but will never arrest you because they think you might commit a crime next year ! Have I achieved anything after 20 years constant campaigning?Well I helped quite a few parents keep their children and invented the term “forced adoption” previously known only a “adoption without parental consent” and named my site accordingly.
Not too much to leave posterity but at least I tried………….
Paul-Brian Tovey said:
You did okay .. You did what you could .. I’ve seen your site . You have a heart .. Pity the systems and those that run it do not share your depth ..
Paul-Brian Tovey said:
So glad Barbara emerged with her story.. Tough going though, and personally as an Adoptee too, that’s walked the flame miles of Adoptee hells and dislocated senses of identity I take my hat off to her ..
This is a hard core journey for many of us to do . Risking rejections as we gain our own deep personal realities back.. Barbara went through that .. Salute .. !