It happens every year. And it’s often a very difficult time. Despite the beauty of the spring season, as the month of May approaches, many of us will begin to contemplate the meaning of the holiday celebrated on the second Sunday in May and designated as Mother’s Day. Many of us will have to decide how to “celebrate” the day and consider the meaning of this day that is so special for some and yet so painful for those who have lost children to adoption. As birthmothers, some of us may feel lonely and depressed, isolated and ignored. Some of us may feel elated with the joy of a reunion, but still feel the pain and anguish of the years we lost when separated from our child.
So this year, no matter what your particular circumstances, we’d like to offer some advice on how to spend the day. We hope to bring you a little bit of happiness and joy in this “Advice Column” of the CUB Communicator.
First, try to take good care of yourself in the days leading up to Mother’s Day. Know that you are not alone. (Remember that some of us celebrate the Birthmother’s Day on the Saturday before Mother’s Day.) Find a support group meeting near you if possible or join a chat room and discuss your emotions and feelings. Reach out online or by phone to a friend. Be sure to take some time to yourself, and to practice plenty of self care. Maybe you can plan a special meal, or take in a movie, or go for a walk and enjoy nature, or visit with family members. Maybe invite a friend and take yourselves for a spa day or treat yourself to a massage or facial, but whatever you choose to do, be good to yourself!
Remember Lady Edith in Downton Abbey? She was forced to hide her pregnancy and later disguise the existence of her own child because Lady Edith was herself that terrible creature: the “U” word: Unwed. She was an unwed mother from a titled family in upper class England in 1925. She was what they called in those days a “fallen woman” – a secret disgrace to her own family and likely to be disinherited from her in-laws-to-be. Yet she gambled everything and insisted on keeping her daughter and on telling the truth. And she survived. She even prevailed! She got to keep her child and even find romance in the end. Maybe it doesn’t always work out that way, but isn’t it nice to think that every now and then one courageous young woman dared to risk everything she had, including her reputation, to keep her child and to own her truth.
May we all be inspired on this Birth/Mother’s Day by Lady Edith Crawley of Downton Abbey who risked it all but won out in the end.
Who We Are and What We Do
The only national organization focused on birthparents – their experiences, healing and wisdom – CUB serves all those affected by adoption and all who are concerned about adoption issues. Although our focus is on birthparents, long the forgotten people of the adoption community, we welcome adoptees, adoptive parents, and professionals. We find that we all have much to learn from each other and that sharing our feelings and experiences benefits all of us.
Each year, CUB hosts a healing retreat for all members of the adoption triad, and all who are interested in learning more about the adoption experience. We usually meet by the shore so there is beauty and space for reflection and rest in between our sessions. You won’t find the schedule packed with too many choices. We focus on a core program so we can make the most of our annual time together.
Saving Our Sisters
Saving Our Sisters (SOS), a grassroots effort initiated by a birthmother who lost her child to an unnecessary adoption, will become wide organization dedicated to supporting organizations.
“These two national organizations both focus on family preservation; coming together as one to strengthen our outreach makes perfect sense for the future.”
-Lynn Johansenn, founding member of Saving Our Sisters, (SOS)
CUB, incorporated in 1976, supports those coping with the effects of adoption by providing support, resources, and referrals. SOS assists women needing resources that will enable them to raise and protect their children. Bringing SOS under the umbrella of CUB’s non-profit status will empower both organizations to work toward the mutual goal of family preservation.
SOS began as a grassroots effort after one mother learned too late about the Adoption Industry's marketing and how it facilitates the separation of vulnerable mothers from their children. In an effort to channel her grief into something positive, she formed SOS, connecting women who share similar adoption experiences. SOS focuses on family preservation using an all-volunteer network to support women who, with just a little assistance and confidence, can readily parent their children.
Both organizations are committed to the belief that, "Every woman must have the right to be the parent of her own child and to have access to the resources needed to raise that child in a safe and healthy environment."
Saving Our Sisters Summit
The Summit is still on! Please consider joining us for the Saving Our Sisters Summit in Kansas City, Missouri May 12-15, 2016. Join family preservation-minded people and make a difference! For more information, please visit Concerned United Birthparents.
To register with a debit/credit card, please click HERE.
To print the registration form and pay by other payment options, please click HERE.
To view the tentative Summit schedule, please click HERE.
Welcome From Your New CUB Communicator Team!
CUB Communicator: Sarah Burns and Jennifer Wachowski
- Welcome to the latest edition of the CUB Communicator. We would like to introduce the new team, and we invite you to share with us your ideas and hope that you will contact us with information, news and updates. Here is your team and we look forward to hearing from you! - Sarah Burns, Interim VP for Communications
WEBSITE: Kat Stanley
TWITTER: Reanne Mosley and Kat Stanley
FACEBOOK: Sylvie Makara and Jennifer Wachowski
REDDIT: Joan Joyce
MEDIA LIAISON: Leslie Mackinnon
Technical Assistance: Renee Gelin
Of course none of this is possible without the support in all communications endeavors of our CUB President Patty Collings.
Meet Your Board Members
Winter Haven, FL
Los Angeles, CA
Director (Region 6) & Vice President (Interim) Media
Palm Springs, CA
Mary Anne Cohen
Director (Region 1
Director (Region 2)
Director (Region 3)
West St. Paul, MN
Director (Region 4)
St. Louis, MO
Director (Region 5)
Bainbridge Island, WA
Director (Saving Our Sisters / SOS)
A Letter From Your CUB President
Welcome to the Spring 2016 CUB Communicator. As the President of CUB, it is my pleasure to provide you with this bit of news and information about CUB, adoption reform, birthparents and adoptees. With this edition, I am grateful to welcome a new communications team: all volunteers who work hard to give you news and information.
We encourage you to write to us, to send us articles or stories about adoption, birthparents, pain and loss in adoption, or other topics, like search and reunion.
We also encourage you to visit our website, at www.CUBirthparents.org, and to share with us ideas for our annual retreat, or books and films dealing with adoption you would like to share with our membership.
If you have not already done so, please consider becoming a member of CUB, and if you can, please consider attending one of our Support Groups. We welcome you to CUB.
Patty Collings, President
How To Leave Iowa
Do not stop to say goodbye
to the boys at Joe’s Cigar Shop.
Instead follow Pleasant as it turns
and runs like a thief out of town.
You may take one picture from
the sepia perfection of your youth.
Will it be white cowboy costume or
powder blue tux, Roy Rogers trot
or Herb Alpert fantasia?
she almost let you –
in the cabin of the farm kid’s truck
oh boy Buddy Holly
went down in a corn field like this
you thought, and you would’ve said
anything, all my love all my kisses,
not knowing then
that the unions were dying
that the truck, the kid,
the family farms would run far
away from your Iowa sky,
that single note of blue
playing and playing itself
over you, over her
cotton candy prom dress,
you didn’t care as long
as the corn grew, as long
as you had things to count on.
Do not stop to say goodbye
to the Bavarian Inn off 55.
Tilt your mirror till it appears
and watch it crawl backwards.
Land retreats then drops away
and still the fields scatter,
impossibly wide, unfailing,
like the blood still flowing
through the people who stay.
Katie (Hae) Leo is an artist and poet who lives in Minnesota. She was adopted from Korea when she was 10 months old. You can check out Katie's website www.katiehaeleo.com
For All You Bookworms Out There
For all you bookworms, here’s a new book that is getting a lot of attention in the adoption community right now:
An Affair with My Mother
A Story of Adoption, Secrecy, and Love
by Caitriona Palmer
Caitriona Palmer had a happy childhood in Dublin, raised by loving adoptive parents. But when she was in her late twenties, she realized that she had a strong need to know the woman who had given birth to her. She was able to locate her birth mother, Sarah, and they developed a strong attachment.
But Sarah set one painful condition to this joyous new relationship: she wished to keep it - to keep Caitriona - secret from her family, from her friends, from everyone.
Who was Sarah, and why did she want to preserve a decades-old secret? An Affair with My Mother tells the story of Caitriona's quest to answer these questions, and of the intense, furtive 'affair' she and her mother conducted in carefully chosen locations around Dublin. In turn heartwarming and heartbreaking, An Affair with My Mother is a searing portrait of the social and familial forces that left Sarah - and so many other unwed Irish mothers of her generation - frightened, traumatized and bereft. It is also a beautifully written account of a remarkable relationship.
Caitriona Palmer has called out the false shame of her origins, with a kind of anguished courage that is incredibly moving. An Affair With My Mother is a forensic account of how it feels to be - in the interests of Catholic 'respectability' - excluded from the facts of your own life. In its commitment to family love, to joy and truth, it is a gift." - Anne Enright, winner of the Man Booker Prize
Read more at Penguin Books
The CUB Retreat is a unique experience for birthparents, adoptees, adoptive parents and others affected by adoption. It is not just another conference.
There are always interesting and insightful speakers, both professionals and those speaking from the heart about their own experiences with adoption. There will be great entertainment and lots of laughs as well as tears.
For those of you who have never met a birthparent, or perhaps never met another birthparent in person, the retreat is a wonderful opportunity to connect in the real world with online friends, and to put a face to words and voices. If you have attended our retreats before, you already know what a healing experience they can be for all those whose lives have been affected by adoption — and how wonderful it is to meet old and new friends. The program and setting by the bay are superb, but the real gift of our retreat is the people you will meet and connect with there. Please join us this year at the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa.
October 28-30 at Safety Harbor Resort and Spa http://www.safetyharborspa.com in Safety Harbor, FL
15 minutes from Tampa International Airport (TIA)
Invited guest speakers include:
Amy Seek, author of God and Jetfire: Confessions of a Birth Mother
Cathy Koley is a yoga and meditation teacher who will present on Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TSY) and Meditation. TSY is more than just exercise - it is a highly successful adjunct therapy for all kinds of trauma survivors. Cathy will speak about TSY and the role body therapies play in healing PTSD and the less well-recognized DTD (Developmental Trauma Disorder).
Lynn Johansenn, founder, Saving Our Sisters (SOS), a grassroots organization dedicated to family preservation and a new program of CUB.
*The rest of the programs are still under development.*
We hope many of you will join us this year at the retreat.
Did You Know?
Did you know that last year, activists in California worked hard to promote a law regulating fake “Crisis Pregnancy Clinics” or CPCs? These clinics, also known as "Crisis Pregnancy Centers," prey on pregnant women to coerce, lie to, and shame them away from the most medically accurate and healthy options. We’ve all seen these people all over the internet, trolling for frightened women with an unplanned pregnancy, And we all know what happens next. These same people promote adoption in their fake “clinics,” coerce the women to relinquish, get the women’s newborn infants, and then run! They never help women with their choices or with their babies. Their only goal is to prevent abortion, and never to help women and their newborns.
The California “Reproductive FACT ACT” requires CPCs to publicly acknowledge they are fraudulent, and tell women where they can access medically accurate treatment with financial assistance. This is an area where CUB can help by providing information on adoption. We can distribute the CUB brochure, “Choices, Chances, Changes: A Guide to Making An Informed Choice About Your Unplanned Pregnancy.” by Carole Anderson, Mary Anne Cohen and Lee Campbell. Contact the CUB Communicator Editor if you would like a copy.
Sadly, even though this law was passed in California, anti-choice extremists are now launching legal attacks to prevent local authorities from enforcing the law. That's why some folks have launched a new campaign with the Courage Campaign to demand that these fake clinics follow the law and stop trying to trick women into making choices that are not the best for them and their families. Learn more by clicking HERE.
Open Records in Indiana
Senate Bill 91 was recently passed in the state of Indiana. Essentially, this bill repeals provisions applicable to adoptions finalized before January 1, 1994. The old law prohibited the release of identifying information unless a consent to release the information was on file. The new law provides that effective July 1, 2018, identifying information may be released (unless a Do Not Release form is on file) regardless of when the adoption took place.
What does this mean?
Previously, adoptees were only given identifying information surrounding their birth if a birth parent had agreed to release that information. But effective July of 2018, a consent does not need to be on file. However, identifying information will not be released if a birth parent has filed a Do Not Release form.
Open records are both a goal and a hot button issue in the adoption community. Since it is a viewed by those who champion them as a basic human right to know the accurate facts and details surrounding their birth, Original Birth Certificate laws that ignore the adoptees' right to know is met with dismay within the adoption community. Do we chalk this one up as a win, loss or maybe in the adoption reform scoreboard?
Pros and Cons of Indiana's New Law
It can't be argued that many will benefit from Indiana's new law allowing access to identifying information to adoptees. For many, questions will be answered, reunions will be facilitated, and vital medical information may be gained. However, it cannot be ignored that there are also many negative things about this new bill.
The first thing that should be noted is this bill does not give an adoptee access to their original birth certificate! Instead, the local health officer shall make a permanent record of the following information taken from the original birth certificate:
(3) Date of birth.
(4) Place of birth.
(5) Name of the parents.
(6) Birthplace of the parents.
(7) The date of filing of the certificate of birth.
(8) The person in attendance at the birth.
(9) Location of the birth, including whether the birth occurred at a hospital, licensed health care facility, home, or other non-health care facility.
While this covers most or all information that is contained in an original birth certificate, it is still not an original birth certificate, but rather a summary of the information contained therein.
Why does this matter?
We cannot assume that every adoptee who wishes to obtain an original birth certificate is only seeking reunion. While many certainly do want a reunion, some simply want what rightfully belongs to them - their original, accurate, and true birth certificate. This "summary" does not satisfy that want or need. Adoptees make the point that they are the only class of people in this country who are not allowed an accurate and true record of their birth.
Another flaw in the new law and what angers many adoptees (and rightfully so) is that a birth parent can, essentially, stop them from obtaining their accurate birth information.
If it is assumed that an accurate record of one's birth is a human right, then those rights should not be taken away by someone else, such as a birth parent.
What about the privacy of birth parents?
While it is a very small percentage of mothers and fathers who would wish to remain anonymous, it can't be ignored that the wish is there. Other states that have passed laws for open records have avoided a "birth parent veto" on an adoptee's records by using contact preference forms. Instead of denying an adoptee the information they seek, a birth parent may file a contact preference form to be included with the birth record, should the adoptee obtain this information. This contact preference form states what the birth parent's wishes are, and it would be up to the adoptee to honor those wishes.
Whether you celebrate the new law in Indiana, or curse it, SEA91 will benefit many adoptees, even though as it leaves out many others.
Where do you stand? Is it a human right for all adoptees to have an accurate and true record of their birth, like the rest of the non-adopted population?
Virgin of the Adoption
The painting featured here, Virgin of the Adoption by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, is recognized in the art world as a masterpiece of “neoclassical, ideal, and pure art.” Yet while this beautiful painting with the strange title allows the viewer to experience different interpretations, it can evoke many conflicting feelings for those of us in the adoption triad.
What does this portrait mean? How do we interpret it? The range of interpretations it invites are brought out by its very title: The Virgin of the Adoption. It was a title given by the artist but what did he intend to convey? Since the idea of a Virgin of the Adoption never appeared anywhere in the Bible, there may never be a definitive and or a clear meaning. But the possibilities for interpretation are unlimited, and suggest a unique and personal experience that might be different for each viewer.
What and who is the Virgin of the Adoption? The intense mood of the painting begs for analysis. At first, it appears that the calmness and peacefulness of the artwork is broken by a sense of pain, pity and almost hopelessness. The painting also suggests a feeling of remorse and sorrow, yet this is in opposition to a suggestion of understanding and acceptance. Since the Virgin is portrayed as both fragile and delicate, yet a strong motherly figure, the painting is filled with contradictions. Some might say that the peculiar nature of the Virgin of the Adoption seems to be reflected in the Virgin's portrait as sweet, yet glacial at the same time while also being psychologically inaccessible. One can only speculate.
The painting may be a comment on the complexity of human nature itself, or a portrait of the conflict and pain associated with loss in adoption. In addition to being a beautiful painting with an unusual name, what does this portrait mean to you?
Want To Help Shape CUB's Future?
2016 is an election year for CUB. All positions on the National Board of Directors are up for election for a two-year term of office beginning September 1, 2016. To access the list of these positions and the roles and responsibilities for each, click here for the CUB Election Page or send an send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Birthparents who have been members of CUB for at least six months are eligible to run for office (nominee must have joined no later than December 1, 2015).
Nominations must be received by June 1, 2016.
Ballots will be distributed July 1, 2016 to be returned by August 1, 2016. If you are not currently eligible to vote, you may make payment for membership dues ($40) with the ballot and your vote will be counted. There are three ways you can check your membership status:
online at www.CUBirthparents.org
send an email to email@example.com
or call 800-822-2777 ext. 82
CUB Support Groups
CUB Support Groups
2-5pm (from September to May)
Plymouth Congregational Church (downstairs) on Edgell Rd.
in Framingham, MA.
(617) 328-3005. Kathleen Aghajanian
1:30-4:30 (from Sept. to August)
(202) 298-1011 (Voice Mail only) or
|Los Angeles (Studio City)
800-822-2777, ext 901
3646 Coldwater Canyon Avenue
St. Michael & All Saints Episcopal Church
Los Angeles (Orange County)
Private home in La Mirada
Please contact us at
for the address and directions.
800-822-2777, ext 903
Mesa Vista Hospital (lounge)
7850 Vista Hill Ave
(just n. of Mission Valley)
|San Diego North County
Private home in Carlsbad
Call Karen at 800-822-2777 ext 902 for directions
|Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN (Twin Cities)
St. Louis Park Recreation Center
5005 West 36th St.
For directions & info
3140 Troy Ave.
First Wednesday of every month
6-8pm. For the meeting location,
text Coco: 503-477-9974.
The Girl Behind the Door
John Brooks is an adoptive father who learned too late about the loss and sorrow that children who are separated from their first/birth mothers experience. The very painful suicide of his 17-year-old daughter Casey resulted in the memoir, The Girl Behind the Door, published by Scribner (an imprint of Simon & Schuster). The book is his search to answer the question of why this happened.
According to Nancy Verrier, author, adoptive mother, adoption specialist and therapist, “[The book] is remarkably honest and a testament to the lack of information that exists about adoption, and what needs to be understood, not only by parents, but by our society when it comes to relinquishment and adoption. John's book is a real-life story of the result of separating mothers and babies, especially when there is no understanding about the loss involved. It is a cautionary tale, sad, but inspirational. I highly recommend it.”
Readers may reach the author, John Brooks, at firstname.lastname@example.org, can find the book at: www.iheartcasey.com and can reach John at his website at: www.parentingandattachment.com