Because of You: A response to Bethany Christian Services

Bethany Christian Services released a series of three videos for what they refer to as “birthmothers day.” Contrary to the opinions of many others, I’m not upset that they decided to label it birthmothers day as opposed to mothers day because it helps distinguish and spread awareness that yes, adoptees have (at least) two mothers. Many people, if they are not adopted themselves, tend to forget that an adoptees’ adoptive mother is not his/her biological mother. This is not a fault of their own, nor is it careless. If anything, its a sign that the adoptee has assimilated quite successfully into whichever context they were placed.

All of that said, what does upset me are the nature of the videos that were released and encouraged by the organization to be sent to individuals’ birth mothers. Aside from the lack of authenticity, the videos are further propaganda (yes, propaganda) to be used by the organization, at the expense of birth mothers and their children.

The beginnings of Holt International are rooted in this same propaganda, propaganda where the real message is ‘your child can only have a good life away from you.’ The founders of Holt have often been accused as baby stealerssnatchers and other similar names, as many of the early adoptions were haphazardly explained to birth mothers. Many birth mothers were under the impression that they would still be able to communicate with their child throughout the years and when they realized that this was incorrect, they were overcome with grief.

The acquisition of children was usually done by talking about Christianity, asking if they (birth mothers) had ever considered sending their child to America, and then proceeding to show pictures of their country’s (in this case, South Korea’s) children, happy and smiling in America. Can you imagine what impact this must have on an already vulnerable, single woman?

I can.
It manipulates their view of themselves and their ability to raise their child.
It provides even more guilt for something that a woman already feels embarrassed about, covertly saying ‘you were selfish, now be selfless.’
It demeans her by saying ‘you’re not adequate to provide for your child.’

With these messages being sent, is it really any wonder why adoption agencies were, and are, so “successful?”

Unfortunately, this model of adoption has had a lasting impact. Agencies all over the world are using the same ‘look at this happy child!’ form of propaganda. (Some may argue that this is transparency, but transparency gives both sides of the story, not one.) Bethany’s most recent “birthmothers day” videos are just further proof.

Here is the transcript from the adoptees’ video:

Because of you I’m alive. I’m blessed and I have an awesome family.
I am thankful for you because if you didn’t make the choices that you did, the people that I call mom and dad, would have just been known as Pam and Lou.
Because of you I have been able to share a lot with others, about my faith and god’s providence.
Because of you I have a great mom and dad and brother and I love them all.
Because of you I feel protected and I’m home.
Out of all of the things that you could’ve done, you thought about me and what would be best for my future.
Because of you I know what it means to be a strong Christian woman and even though I’ve never met you I will never stop loving you.

Can you figure out what being said says, what really is being said here?

Because of you I’m alive. I’m blessed and I have an awesome family. Something that I would’ve never had with you. I certainly wouldn’t have lived?
I am thankful for you because if you didn’t make the choices that you did, the people that I call mom and dad, would have just been known as Pam and Lou. Thanks for making your choice. I’m so thankful that I can call them my parents, and not you.
Because of you I have been able to share a lot with others, about my faith and god’s providence. (Um…wait, this isn’t a good thing…)
Because of you I have a great mom and dad and brother and I love them all. Again, thanks! You never could have been a great mom.
Because of you I feel protected and I’m home. Something else you couldn’t provide.
Out of all of the things that you could’ve done, you thought about me and what would be best for my future. Or, you at least listened to what the agency fed you.
Because of you I know what it means to be a strong Christian woman and even though I’ve never met you I will never stop loving you. I never would have been a strong person if I grew up with you. 

No one would ever want to send such messages to someone, yet these are exactly what the birth mothers are being told. (I’m really interested in the parts that weren’t included in the video. By the emotion of some of the individuals, you know there was more to it. Do you think Bethany will ever release the outtakes?)

This time next week I’ll be on my way to Korea. One part of the trip is a visit to an unwed mothers home, where we adoptees will be paraded in front of unwed mothers as living propaganda. I really hope there are others there who realize the impact our words can have on these vulnerable women.

We need to be advocating for birth mothers to keep their children, not give them away.
We need a gentle way to say no one can replace you.
We need to show them how much their children will love and need them.

If I were to create my own video it would say the following:

I wish you would have kept me.
Regardless of how difficult things could have been, at least we would have been together.
Because of you, I’ll always be searching for home, a place filled with love and belonging.
Because of you I have never experienced more pain, pain that I’ll never be able to move beyond.
A lot of people say that you gave me life, but you may also be the reason it ends.
I want you so much.

October Baby

In the middle of making a list of “things to do to keep busy,” I landed on a website looking at showtimes for movies…since going out to a movie is a quite effective distraction-from-life tool.

When it comes to movies, I tend to be a ‘judge the movie by its poster’ type person: does the movie have a catchy poster? If so, I continue on and read the synopsis.

One of the movies, October Baby, was particularly striking for numerous reasons. You can read the synopsis here. Once you do, you’ll probably understand what caught my attention.

The quick synopsis is this:

Girl collapses due to a complicated birth –> finds out she’s adopted (after a failed abortion) –> becomes angry and confused –> goes on a journey to find her “hidden past and find hope for her unknown future.”

Ha. Now THAT is a coincidence.
Is this really a movie that’s in theaters right now, seriously? I realize I don’t really matter in the world, yet at the same time can’t stop feeling like I’m important enough for the world to go out of its way to make me miserable via throwing the topic of adoption in at every turn.

While browsing the reviews and the movie website, I learned that it’s a Christian movie (read: it has an agenda) and one its supporters is Bethany Christan Services (which is one of the partnerships for the trip I’m going on). Other supporters include Focus on the Family (gag) and Heartbeat International, among others. Given what I know about Holt International and Bethany Christian Services, I can imagine what the main agenda is– give your child up for adoption! It’s god’s plan! And it’s what’s best for you and your baby!

Although the movie looks like a bad lifetime movie, which means it must be pretty terrible, the allure and the reason I may pay close to $10 to see it, is the “find hope for her unknown future” line.

I’m at a point where I’ll read and/or watch almost anything if it gets me even a little closer to (re)finding hope, which is why I’m still going to Korea even though I’m dreading it…because maybe it won’t be that bad at all. I feel like being in Korea is my only chance at rediscovering the peace and hope I once had, like it’s my only way toward the possibility of healing.

There’s an urgency of needing to find out now if this will resolve things because I can’t hold out much longer.

And I’ll only know if I go.