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On December 18, 1987, Heidi Russo slipped out of a Milwaukee social worker's office with a sticky terrycloth bib in her purse. The bib was one of the few mementos from her brief time with her son—the nine months she carried him and the six ...

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cathy w

February 13, 2014  8:15pm

i like the idea of not shaming the mother, but/ other side, as yrs go by what are you telling your child. that his mother loved him? how are you preparing yourself and your child for a reunion between your child and his/her original parents. a woman who surrenders her baby grieves for her baby every single day. it's never over. it's one of those things that doesn't get better. i hope adoptive parents everywhere can understand that they don't own their child. and when their child grows up that 'child' might wish to form a relationship with the original parents who loved him enough to provide a different life. the'love' is all easy, til it it's not so easy to understand that your adopted child is actually related to other people who he might connect with. it's a v. important connection, and should be honored and celebrated. my experience with adop. parents is that prospect is too painful. but it's painful too for their child who loves his parents, but 'he wants to know/love" others.

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Paula Durbin

February 12, 2014  12:24pm

I was so excited to see this article. I'm a Mom because a unknown Hero gave me & my husband the most unselfish gift there is in life, our son. He actually called me about this article. We have discussed her thru out his life, even though we've never had the blessing of meeting her. My son will be 25 this month & graduationg from KCU with his Master's Degree. His passion is Youth & Family Ministries. I've always felt a strong love & connection with his Birth Mother. I've always dreamed about giving my son that gift of knowing her & have no idea where to start. Even if she didn't want to be found, I know in my heart she would just want to know what a great man, our son grew up to be & how proud she should be of him. We've prayed for her & have always really thought about her on his Birthday & Mother's Day. I know the 1st couple yrs I was a mother, I would sob for her. I felt a connection with her & felt her pain & loss & wish I could've shared his life with her. Thank You - Paula Durbin

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Taylor Talmage

February 06, 2014  3:31pm

I have two girl friends, one has placed two children for adoption. This adoption is fairly open in that she gets to spend time with the kiddos periodically if she wants to. The other friend has placed her first and only child for adoption. She is in a committed relationship (3 years later) to the father of her child. As a lifestyle choice they are not READY or WILLING to parent. There is actually a term for this. It is called 'childfree'. I have a coworker who also chooses this lifestyle. Both of these women stand firm on their choice of adoption. Of course it wasn't easy for either of them, but it was right for the place that they are in their lives. They had children and chose not to parent them. Talk to either of them and they would be insulted that you would look down upon their choice to place their children with adoptive families. There are plenty of mothers that choose not to parent and are satisfied in that decision.

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Betsy C

February 06, 2014  10:56am

Please don't mistake a sincere heart that wants to provide something nice for these women as something negative. No, these bags can't take the place of a baby, but it is something nice to provide for them so that they truly don't leave with empty arms. It comes from a sincere care for these women and is a small way to honor the true heroes that they are. I tell this to our birth mothers all the time. They chose life and they chose us. They will always be my hero...always.

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Betsy C

February 06, 2014  10:52am

It saddens me that adoption is being referenced as human-trafficking. I understand that in some situations, that is the case, and that makes me furious. Being coerced into adoption is inexcusable. I am sincerely sorry that this happens and has happened to some people posting comments. That being said, this is not always the case. There are loving people out there, some unable to get pregnant/stay pregnant, and others who want to provide a loving home for another child. It is offensive to me as an adoptive parent that adoption overall is being referred to in this manner. Neither of our adoption situations have been like this. My first and foremost worry is for our birth mothers. It is so important that they are allowed to make this decision on their own. Pre-placement and post-placement counseling is the most important thing that can happen - ensuring that this decision is their decision and that they are helped emotionally.

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Jamie Calloway-Hanauer

February 05, 2014  10:41pm

Great article. Thanks for sharing this, and for sharing your own story.

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Karen Yates

February 05, 2014  10:13pm

Beautifully said, Margot. As an adoptive mother, my child is one of the 19 million that are 'true orphans.' He was abandoned at birth. It grieves me to no end that I do not have any information about his mother or father. I think of her often, and I know he will grow to think of her often too. I also have a family member who was adopted and the mother was from a well to do family with much support, but she was young and not wanting to parent. Each story is different. It is BEYOND tragic to me that a mother and child should be separated because of lack of resources or support. It is BEYOND tragic to me to think of a mother feeling coerced into adoption. I'm very sorry for anyone who had that experience. Still, I am glad we are doing things to embrace and support birthmothers.

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Claudia D'Arcy

February 05, 2014  6:45pm

@Taylor Talmage You said: " They are not ready or willing to be a parent" define ready? Whenever a mother or child is separated due to finances etc, it is a tragedy! And again, "willing" is just more nonfactual garbage. If a mother desires to parent than she should be able. end of story. AS a society we should be doing all we can to help her mother, not help ourselves to her child. You said:" there are resources to help aid in the difficult transition in placing a child for adoption" yeah they are called adoption agencies and it is a 13 BILLION dollar industry. You said "painful" You have NO idea.. it would be more humane to shoot a mother after taking her child for adoption. http://www.adoptionbirthmothers.com/a-birthmothers-life/

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Claudia D'Arcy

February 05, 2014  6:41pm

@Taylor Talmage What is offensive is when someone who has no idea what the experience is then goes off and parrots the same lousy mythology. You said: " plenty of available resources are necessary for those mothers that DO decide to stay connected with and parent their child. " No there is not actually and the minute one calls an adoption agency in perhaps a moment of weakness and fear, the chance of parenting droops drastically. You said: "some people become pregnant and DO NOT want to be a mother?" the numbers of women who really fall into that category are way smaller than you imagine. Like we should have about 500 relinquishments a year not 15K. got to go with part 2:

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Carlynne Hershberger

February 05, 2014  5:29pm

To Taylor Talmage - it's really very simple. Have you ever been the victim of coercion or had your child taken from you? I have. Infant adoption is a supply and demand industry. Billions of dollars are made every year from the sale of newborns. If you do the research you'll see that. When an adoption agency can advertise on their website that they have "adoption situations" aka babies, available for x number of dollars and the dollar amount goes down based on the color of the baby's skin (the darker skin, the cheaper the price) then what you have is a legal, human trafficking industry.

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Taylor Talmage

February 05, 2014  3:52pm

I'm not entirely sure why several of you seem so offended at the suggestion of adoption as an option for some of these mothers. Of course, plenty of available resources are necessary for those mothers that DO decide to stay connected with and parent their child. Are you forgetting that some people become pregnant and DO NOT want to be a mother? They are not ready or willing to be a parent? It is extremely noble of those mothers to choose adoption. Of course it is painful. That is what this article is about. For those mothers that choose NOT to parent, there are resources to help aid in the difficult transition in placing a child for adoption. Calm down! Goodness gracious!

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Carlynne Hershberger

February 05, 2014  8:13am

I am a mother, not a birthmother and certainly not a hero. The vast majority of mothers who lose their children to adoption do so because of a lack of support - emotional and financial - and because they've been targeted by an industry that benefits financially from the sale of the newborn. If you really want to help mothers, ask them these questions - What do you need in order to raise your baby? What can I do to help? Would you rather take home this swag bag or your baby? Then listen to her. Do what you can to help. Get your money back on that swag bag and help her get a crib or diapers or baby clothes. You could help her find support or help with job skills, school, daycare. There is so much that could be done to help prevent another tragedy of mother and child losing each other through adoption. If you think a swag bag is going to fill those empty arms, you are sadly mistaken. There is no greater grief than losing a child.

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Kim DeCrow

February 04, 2014  9:41pm

This is 2014. Keep your "swag bag" and I'll keep my baby.

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Deanna Shrodes

February 04, 2014  9:11pm

Perhaps a "bad stereotype" exists because some Christians have a difficult time believing that God loves single mothers and will help them parent their children. As believers, we can surround single mothers and give them the support they need so they don't feel they have to relinquish their babies. Perhaps the shame exists because some Christians believe it would be shameful for a single mother to keep and raise a child. Let's break off that shame!! Russo says she, "walked away empty-armed with a weight of shame, knowing that she wasn't equipped to lend support." Why is she advocating that more women walk away empty-armed? They don't have to. They can parent their children. THERE IS HELP. Rev. Deanna Shrodes Adoptee, Reunited www.adopteerestoration.com

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Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy

February 04, 2014  11:38am

As a birthmother, I have to say "PLEASE do not call us heroes". Being a "hero" puts a birthmother on a pedestal in the same way that being labeled a whore puts us in the gutter. One might sanctify us, while the other criminalizes us but again, neither are real and both have too much false expectation attached. A mother who relinquishes her child to adoption is simple a real everyday woman and mother. She is no different than any other mother who walks this earth. She loves her child no more, no less and has not any great gifts, nor greater strength. The only difference is that she often lacks support, assistance, and the belief that she has value as a mother. Might she be labeled as "too young, too poor" and those labels force her to become a 'birthmother" The separation of mother and child for any reason is still a great tragedy for both; let's not sugar coat it. http://www.adoptionbirthmothers.com/irresponsible-whores-or-strong-fami ly-building-angels/

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C Swett

February 04, 2014  11:00am

What you are calling 'open' adoption is really only IDENTIFIED adoption. Once an adoption is finalized the child becomes a legal stranger to the family God (or biology) created. No one in that 'first' family has the right to any contact with the child, or even knowledge that she is alive and well. A mother in Oklahoma, a child adopted into Atlanta. Who does this serve? The clients in infant adoption are the adopters. The practice of placing children with strangers in closed adoptions did not begin after World War Two but started with entrepreneurs like Georgia Tann. There remains an entrepreneurial aspect to adoption today with 'facilitators' who need no license, and webpage designers who help prospective adopters cast a wide net online hoping to lure a mother. Further the idea of sending a mother home with a 'swag bag' is offensive. Shouldn't Christians encourage mothers, not circle around hoping to obtain infants for more affluent women?

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Andrea Cavanaugh

February 04, 2014  6:49am

Thank you. I appreciate the emphasis Christians place on adoption, but I've been bothered by the over-emphasis on how adopting a child reflects God's adoption of us. There is no place for the birth family in that storyline.

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Cynthia Albrecht

February 03, 2014  11:27pm

Please if you are sincere in your report, please show these mothers respect and do not call them "birthmorthers" that negates them as persons and mothers. These terms were invented by a eugenics based for-profit industry that was/is intent on a healthy supply to meet demand for white newborns. Hence they needed "breeders" or "birthmothers" it's a dehumanizing term especially for Christians to be using as if it is the gospel according to Christ Himself. This needs to be addressed and needs to be said. Also this picture is obscene, such a sacred moment, twisted into a sick perverted version of fake "motherhood" they the deluded think they can purchase. These young mothers are NOT heros, they are being lied to and manipulated when at the most vulnerable point in their lives.

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Dorothy Greco

February 03, 2014  12:46pm

This is a beautiful article. So poignant: "Without moral or practical support from families or communities, these young women were assured by well-meaning social workers that they would forget their children and go on to live happy lives. Fessler's research, however, revealed that the women never forgot." And how could they ever forget? Thank you Margot.

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