Dear CUB members and friends,
Happy Spring, (almost summer) and welcome to another issue of the CUB COMMUNICATOR! We are so happy you are loyal and supportive friends of CUB and readers of our newsletter. In it, we aim to provide relevant information about birthparents, adoptees and other members of the adoption triad/constellation.
This is often an emotional time of year for many of us, as we celebrate Mother's Day in May and Father's Day in June, since many birthparents are often separated from their children on those days. This is a time when many adoptees are longing for or wondering about their original, first or birthparents.
With that in mind, we offer you several selections about birthparents, reunions, healing and loss, that may be of interest to you, our reader. We hope you enjoy this issue!
Sarah Burns, Editor
ANN FESSLER TO KEYNOTE CUB RETREAT 2018
We are thrilled that our friend Ann Fessler will join us for the CUB Retreat 2018! Ann Fessler is a visual artist, filmmaker, and author Ann Fessler has spent nearly four decades creating work that deals with the stories of women and the impact that myths, stereotypes, and mass media images have on their lives and intimate relationships. Her interest in the gap between official histories and lived histories has led her not only to collect and contextualize the stories and voices of individuals who have been negatively affected by misrepresentations, but also to critique the institutions and systems that have perpetuated the practice.Fun Fact about Ann Fessler!
Between 2002 and 2005, Fessler interviewed 100 women who lost children to adoption during the 28 years that followed WWII, when a perfect storm of circumstances led to an unprecedented 1.5 million surrenders. With the support of a 2003–2004 Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard, Fessler continued interviewing as she researched the history of adoption and the social climate of the time. The result was her non-fiction book, The Girls Who Went Away (Penguin Press, 2006), which places the women’s stories within the social history of the era and her own story as an adoptee. Her book was called “wrenching, riveting” by The Chicago Tribune, “a remarkably well researched and accomplished book” by The New York Times, and “a blend of deeply moving personal tales, bolstered by solid sociological analysis—journalism of the first order” by The San Francisco Chronicle.
Ann Fessler’s latest film, A Girl Like Her (2011) combines the voices of the women she interviewed with footage from the era—including educational films about dating, sex and “illegitimate” pregnancy, and newsreels about adoption—that both reflected and shaped the public’s understanding of unwed pregnancy and surrender. Fessler’s film has been subtitled in five languages and shown at colleges, adoption conferences, and film festivals in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Poland, Israel, Korea, Holland, Spain, Canada, and the United States.
In 2012, Geneva Anderson writing for Art Hound said, “Fessler’s documentary offers a sociologically rich and important deconstruction of a devastating double standard in effect in those days. By revealing the painful legacy that permanently impacted so many mothers, Fessler has finally and respectfully given them a voice.”
For more information about Ann's film, to schedule a screening, read reviews or purchase a copy of the DVD, visit: http://agirlikeher.com/.
Rickie Solinger to speak at CUB Retreat 2018
will be a keynote speaker at the 2018 CUB Annual Retreat
. Solinger is an independent historian, curator, and lecturer whose work focuses on reproductive politics, welfare politics, politics of incarceration, race and class, and motherhood. She is the award-winning author of Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race before Roe v. Wade
, The Abortionist: A Woman Against the Law
, Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the U.S.
, Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America
, Reproductive Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know,
and, with co-author Loretta Ross, "Reproductive Justice: An Introduction," as well as articles about reproductive politics and welfare
Solinger also curates art exhibitions associated with the themes of her books; the shows travel to college and university galleries around the country aiming to interrupt the curriculum
. Solinger was among the first to coin the term "reproductive politics" in the 1970s, a time when feminists sought to describe the contemporary Roe v. Wade
-era power struggles over contraception and abortion, adoption and surrogacy, and other related issues. Today, questions about reproductive rights are just as complex--and controversial--as they were then. In her ground-breaking work, Reproductive Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know
®, Rickie Solinger wrote about the legal, political, religious, social, ethical, and medical dimensions of these still hotly contested issues.
Rickie Solinger covers some of the most contentious questions being debated today, and the answers she provides are informative, balanced, and sometimes quite surprising. Be sure to come to the CUB Retreat for the chance to meet this famous scholar and activist!
Birth Mothers and Transnational Adoption Practice in South Korea: Virtual Mothering
This book is an important contribution to birthmother history. It illuminates the hidden history of South Korean birth mothers involved in the 60-year-long practice of transnational adoption. The author presents a performance-based ethnography of maternity homes, a television search show, an internet forum, and an oral history collection to develop the concept of virtual mothering, a theoretical framework in which the birth mothers' experiences of separating from, and then reconnecting with, the child, as well as their painful,ambivalent narratives of adoption losses, are rendered, felt and registered.
In this book, the author refuses a universal notion of motherhood. Her critique of transnational adoption and its relentless effects on birth mothers’ lives points to the everyday, normalized, gendered violence against working-class, poor, single mothers in South Korea’s modern nation-state development and illuminates the bio-political functions of transnational adoption in managing an "excess" population. Simultaneously, her creative analysis reveals a counter-public, and counter-history, proposing the collective grievances of birth mothers.
Charitable donations to CUB are welcome!
Did you know you can make a tax-deductible charitable contribution to CUB - Concerned United Birthparents, Inc.! CUB is an all-volunteer non-profit organization. Your gift goes toward promoting awareness of adoption and birthparent issues to members of the media and to the general public, sponsoring and hosting CUB monthly support group meetings, publishing a newsletter, providing outreach to adoptees and birthparents, and sponsoring an annual retreat. All gifts are tax-deductible and we thank you for your support!
Concerned United Birthparents, Inc. (CUB)
P.O. Box 5538
Sherman Oaks, CA 91413
Phone: (800) 822-2777
Recommended documentary film: RESILIENCE
Resilience is a documentary film that tells a story that is rarely told: what happens after the reunion? The documentary follows a Korean birth mother and her American son as they reunite and attempt to build a relationship amidst cultural clashes and unable to speak each others' language. The film shows the mother and son struggle to become a family again.
As a young mother, Myung-ja found herself on the verge of poverty and desperation. Leaving her son in the care of relatives, she went to another city for work. When she returned, her baby was taken away and put up for adoption.
Living in South Dakota, Brent had an all-American upbringing, hardly questioning his Korean identity, but he had always wondered why he was put up for adoption. He never thought he would get an answer, and especially not on national Korean TV where, for the first time, he meets his birth mother.
Myung-ja and Brent's reunion after 30 years changes their lives forever. Resilience follows mother and son as they navigate their delicate path towards reconciliation and understanding.
Accolades: *Best Documentary Asian Film Festival of Dallas *Best Documentary Feature DC APA Film Festival *Grand Jury Award Nominee, Best Documentary Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival *Best Documentary Finalist Palm Beach Women's Int'l Film Festival *Asian Network of Documentary Award Pusan Int'l Film Festival *Official Selection Vancouver Asian Film Festival *Official Selection IAWRT India Asian Women's Film Festival *Official Selection San Diego Asian Film Festival *Official Selection Annual Asian Studies Film Expo: Asia In Current Motion
" -The Korea Herald - "Intimate, charming, compelling."
-10 Magazine, Korea
Running Time: 75 mins
Filmmakers: Tammy Chu
For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/resiliencefilm/
CUB ANNUAL RETREAT 2018
Read more about the CUB Retreat 2018
Concerned United Birthparents is delighted to announce the
CUB 2018 ANNUAL RETREAT
will take place at the
Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, Safety Harbor, FL (near Tampa)
from October 5-7, 2018.
We welcome birthparents, adoptees, adoptive parents and all members of the adoption triad/constellation. Please join us! Visit the CUB website for more information: www.cubirthparents.org.
We are thrilled to announce two of our keynote speakers for the retreat:
Artist and Author AnnFessler*
Author and Activist Rickie Solinger*
* Read more about our speakers in this newsletter
Navigating the Emotions of a Mother: Self-Compassion Can Literally Save Your Life!
Navigating the Emotions of a Mother
Self-Compassion Can Literally Save Your Life!
By: Dr. Manijeh Motaghy
This Mother’s Day was one of the most difficult occasions I’ve ever experienced. I lost my son less than a year ago. This was the first Mother’s Day without him. It was weird, somber. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I had no stories in my head to explain my mood. That’s what the Mindfulness practice does. No stories. Regardless, there were emotions of emptiness, feeling far away, distant, disconnected. I had to go see my own mother and yet it felt like I should remain home. I felt like crying but didn’t want to give in to it. It would be a lot of suffering I thought if I went there.
But then, as the day passed and my feelings became more and more hidden, it all broke loose. Driving home, a tsunami hit. Anger, sorrow, disbelief all crumbled on me. Here I am, a Mindfulness teacher, one who practices and teaches the Dharma and yet caught up. This is the life of a human being. Emotions are a part of our experience and existence. They appear even without a story or reason. You could be watching and guarding your mind/heart against tough emotions, but they can wash you away like a hurricane landing on a town on the shore. In those moments I think, May no parent ever experience such loss. It is out of order, confusing and biologically, neurologically and physiologically painful.
During such moments, the one thing that comes to my aid and frees me from the after effects of an emotional hurricane is the Mindful Self-Compassion. In the face of such strong pain, grief and despair an awareness arises through the heart and witnesses the pain, grief and despair. It stands up tall and experiences, a deep desire to not suffer. The heart of awareness and compassion says, “I don’t deserve to suffer, I don’t have to suffer, I won’t take any reason no matter the circumstance and justify continued pain.” And it all stops. I take one deep breath in, one deep breath out and stay perfectly here, still and quiet!
From my heart to all of you who have experienced loss in your life, any kind of loss, it could be the loss of a dear relationship – I say to you, be patient with your process. Let your own heart of kindness and compassion open, rise and stand for your own pain. Pay attention to and honor what you are in control of, which is your own inner experience. Feel the natural occurrence of an emotional tsunami and be willing to let it pass. Hanging on to the reasons for it only traps the pain. Talking about the experience over and over, telling the story of it, seeking sympathy, and complaining will only strengthen the pain and your feelings of being a victim of the pain. It takes away your own power to be well.
Practice saying to yourself,
“I will not fight what I do not like. I will calmly change it. One breath in, one breath out. I will remain perfectly here, quiet and still.
With love and compassion,
Editor’s Note: Dr. Manijeh Motaghy, PsyD. OMC, AMT is a Doctor of Psychology, Organizational Management Consulting and an Affiliate MAPS Teacher at the UCLA Semel Institute and Mindful Awareness Research Center, MARC. She can be reached at email@example.com or (818) 835-3848
CUB's Harvard-Radcliffe Connection
Read more about CUB and HARVARD/RADCLIFFE
Many CUB members and readers are aware of our very special connection to the RADCLIFFE INSTITUTE at HARVARD UNIVERSITY: our CUB papers and founding documents, articles, newsletters, artifacts and memorabilia are all housed at the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute, and we are very proud to be a part of this special Women's Rights Collection. This year is the 75th anniversary of the Schlesinger Library and the Library's Director came to town to celebrate. In May, I had the chance to meet with the Director, Dr. Jane Kamensky, Professor of History at Harvard University and Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
From its beginnings, in 1943, the plan was for the Woman’s Rights Collection, a gift to Radcliffe by the suffragist and women’s rights activist Maud Wood Park (1871–1955), to grow. Grow it has—slowly for several decades and then, with the burgeoning women’s movement in the 1960s and the foresight of Library staff members who seized the moment, by leaps and bounds.
The materials on display speak to the many types of documents and objects that make up the Library’s collections: manuscripts, books, periodicals, photographs, posters, textiles, memorabilia, scrapbooks, oral histories, audio and video recordings, and digital items. They also tell stories about the wide variety of topics covered in our holdings. Women’s organizations and women’s rights, prominent from the start, are represented, as are gender and sexuality, women’s health and reproductive lives, civil and human rights, social and economic justice, race and ethnicity, family history, girlhood, and culinary history.
ABOUT THE SCHLESINGER LIBRARY AT THE RADCLIFFE INSTITUTE
The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study documents the lives of women of the past and present for the future and furthers the Radcliffe Institute’s commitment to the study of women, gender, and society. The Library has the finest collection of resources for research on the history of women in America; its holdings are especially strong in women’s rights and feminism, health and sexuality, work and family life, culinary history and etiquette, and education and the professions.
In honor of the Schlesinger Library's 75th anniversary, there is a special exhibit touring the US, entitled "75 STORIES, 75 YEARS: DOCUMENTING THE LIVES OF AMERICAN WOMEN" CUB is proud to be part of this exciting effort!
Amnesty International calls for Inquiry on Mother Baby Homes
Amnesty International calls for Inquiry to be launched over 'illegal' forced adoptions at Northern Ireland Mother and Baby home
Although hard to believe these cases could still be under examination in 2018, on May 23rd of this year, Amnesty International called for an independent investigation into potential criminal activity at Mother and Baby Homes in Northern Ireland. The inquiry follows a BBC investigation that uncovered evidence of apparent illegal adoption and international trafficking of babies as recently as in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
A recent BBC investigation found evidence that laws may have been broken and birth certificates falsified in the adoption of babies born in the Marianvale Mother and Baby Home to families in the Republic of Ireland and USA.
The BBC discovered that over one hundred babies who were born at the home were taken out of Northern Ireland for adoption. One case featured a baby whose birth was registered in Northern Ireland, as well as in the Republic of Ireland and in the USA – each time with different birth dates and places of birth.
The Northern Ireland program director of Amnesty International, Patrick Corrigan, has called for an independent inquiry into potential criminal activity in the Homes. He has said that: “Women in Northern Ireland have told Amnesty that they suffered arbitrary detention, forced labor, ill-treatment, and the removal and forced adoption of their babies - criminal acts in both domestic and international law. “
Amnesty has on previous occasions provided information about cases of forced adoption and falsified documentation, such as those now being highlighted by the BBC. They are calling on the Northern Ireland authorities to establish an independent investigation into the allegations of systemic human rights abuses at these institutions, including the alleged theft and trafficking of new-born babies.
Women who were forced to give birth in Mother and Baby Homes in Northern Ireland, and children who were born in the Homes, have previously called for a public inquiry into abuses they say they suffered there.
Oonagh McAleer was forced into a mother and baby home when she became pregnant as a 17 year-old. She gave birth to a son in 1980 but was prevented from ever seeing or holding her baby before he was taken away for adoption against her will. In 2017 she told Amnesty: “My baby was taken from me as soon as he was born. I never even got to hold him, or even to look at his face. He was adopted against my knowledge or agreement. The nuns and the government did that to me. And they did it to my child and to so many other women and girls and their babies across Northern Ireland for decade after decade. We demand the truth be told now, at long last. We demand a public inquiry.”
The Good Shepherd Sisters ran Mother and Baby Homes in Newry, in Belfast and in Derry / Londonderry from the late 19th century until the 1980s and 1990s. Thousands of girls and women passed through the doors of other such Homes.
A Magdalene Asylum and laundry was operated by the Church of Ireland on Belfast’s Donegall Pass, with the home continuing into the 1960s, while the Presbyterian Church was associated with the Ulster Female Penitentiary in central Belfast. In total, Amnesty International has previously identified twelve Mother and Baby Homes or Magdalene Laundry-type institutions which operated in Northern Ireland in the last century.
The Irish Government has established a commission of inquiry into alleged abuses at Mother and Baby Homes in the Republic of Ireland. To date, the Northern Ireland government has refused to set up a similar inquiry.
The UN Committee Against Torture and the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women have both recommended that the Northern Ireland Executive should establish an inquiry into abuses in such institutions. Despite various internal reviews commissioned by the Northern Ireland Executive, it has refused to commit to setting up an inquiry.
The Lost Children of Marianvale was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday, May 22, 2018, and prompted the inquiry.
* Amnesty International https://www.amnesty.org.uk/
No False Hope: A Mother and Son Reunion Story
Read more of Mary Anne's Mother/Son Reunion
Sometimes, the Mother and Child Reunion is Only a Motion Away!
We never know what can happen in a Mother-Child reunion, and often these reunions are difficult. But sometimes, they are just a motion away, even though they can take years and a lot of work. As singer/songwriter Paul Simon put it, “No, I would not give you false hope, on this strange and mournful day, but the mother and child reunion is only a motion away.” While the true meaning behind the lyrics to that song are impossible to know, it is often the case that time surprises us, and often time turns out to be our best friend. That is the case of CUB member Mary Anne Cohen, who recently sent us this story about her reunion with her son. Mary Anne Cohen starts her story here:
There is an old saying, that to assume makes an ass out of U and Me. In adoption reunions, this can be very true. It is a lesson worth remembering, and one that I had reinforced again recently. My reunion story is unusual in many ways.
I have been a member of CUB since it was formed in 1976, and found my son as a pre-teen. I contacted his parents when he was 13, to no good effect, and I contacted him when he was 16, which I now regret. My son was too young, was not interested in a reunion, and was dealing with family problems I did not know about until years later. His adoptive mom did say eventually it was ok to send birthday and Christmas gifts, so I did, and for the most part, he did not respond. His adoptive dad died when my son was 21, and my son moved out shortly thereafter. He cut off contact with the adoptive mother and her family, and I did not hear from him during that time, either. For a long while did not know where he was. I felt utterly rejected.
In August of 2000, my elderly father was dying, and I asked him if I should look for Michael again, and when he said "yes" I decided to get a detective friend to help me find my son all over again. My Dad had passed away, but I wrote Michael a letter to the address I had received. Michael responded via email, and was angry, but at least this opened a line of communication again.
Then, Sept 11, 2001 came. At that time, my husband worked in mid-town Manhattan, but he was able to call me before all communications went down, and he managed to get home via ferry and train. My son, Michael also lived and worked in NYC. When I learned that he worked in a company across the street from the World Trade Center, I was horrified. The only way I had to reach him was a work email, and that was down like everything else. I spent several days frantically scanning the lists of the dead and missing, looking for his name. Finally his company web page came up and they said they had not lost anyone; I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Several weeks later I heard from my son; he had been on vacation in the Bahamas with his girlfriend, they were now engaged, and the only problem they had was getting back to NY.