Category Archives: Children/Youth

Criminalizing Childhood: School Safety Measures Aren’t Making the Schools Any Safer

Every day in communities across the United States, children and adolescents spend the majority of their waking hours in schools that have increasingly come to resemble places of detention more than places of learning. From metal detectors to drug tests, from increased policing to all-seeing electronic surveillance, the public schools of the twenty-first century reflect a society that has become fixated on crime, security and violence.

— Annette Fuentes, Investigative Journalist, Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse becomes a Jailhouse, February 12, 2013

It used to be that if you talked back to a teacher, or played a prank on a classmate, or just failed to do your homework, you might find yourself in detention or doing an extra writing assignment after school.

Of course, that was before school shootings became a part of our national lexicon.

Nowadays, as a result of the government’s profit-driven campaign to keep the nation “safe” from drugs, weapons and terrorism, students are not only punished for minor transgressions such as playing cops and robbers on the playground, bringing LEGOs to school, or having a food fight, but they are being punished with suspension, expulsion, and even arrest.

Welcome to Compliance 101: the police state’s primer in how to churn out compliant citizens and transform the nation’s school’s into quasi-prisons through the use of surveillance cameras, metal detectors, police patrols, zero tolerance policies, lock downs, drug sniffing dogs, strip searches and active shooter drills.

If you were wondering, these police state tactics have not made the schools any safer.

Rather, they’ve turned the schools into authoritarian microcosms of the police state, containing almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, overcriminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the “outside.”

If your child is fortunate enough to survive his encounter with the public schools, you should count yourself fortunate.

Most students are not so lucky.

From the moment a child enters one of the nation’s 98,000 public schools to the moment he or she graduates, they will be exposed to a steady diet of draconian zero tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior, overreaching anti-bullying statutes that criminalize speech, school resource officers (police) tasked with disciplining and/or arresting so-called “disorderly” students, standardized testing that emphasizes rote answers over critical thinking, politically correct mindsets that teach young people to censor themselves and those around them, and extensive biometric and surveillance systems that, coupled with the rest, acclimate young people to a world in which they have no freedom of thought, speech or movement.

By the time the average young person in America finishes their public school education, nearly one out of every three of them will have been arrested.

More than 3 million students are suspended or expelled from schools every year, often for minor misbehavior, such as “disruptive behavior” or “insubordination.”

Black students are three times more likely than white students to face suspension and expulsion.

Zero tolerance policies that were intended to make schools safer by discouraging the use of actual drugs and weapons by students have turned students into suspects to be treated as criminals by school officials and law enforcement alike, while criminalizing childish behavior.

For instance, 9-year-old Patrick Timoney was sent to the principal’s office and threatened with suspension after school officials discovered that one of his LEGOs was holding a 2-inch toy gun.

David Morales, an 8-year-old Rhode Island student, ran afoul of his school’s zero tolerance policies after he wore a hat to school decorated with an American flag and tiny plastic Army figures in honor of American troops. School officials declared the hat out of bounds because the toy soldiers were carrying miniature guns.

A 7-year-old New Jersey boy, described by school officials as “a nice kid” and “a good student,” was reported to the police and charged with possessing an imitation firearm after he brought a toy Nerf-style gun to school. The gun shoots soft ping pong-type balls.

Things have gotten so bad that it doesn’t even take a toy gun to raise the ire of school officials.

A high school sophomore was suspended for violating the school’s no-cell-phone policy after he took a call from his father, a master sergeant in the U.S. Army who was serving in Iraq at the time.

A 12-year-old New York student was hauled out of school in handcuffs for doodling on her desk with an erasable marker.

In Houston, an 8th grader was suspended for wearing rosary beads to school in memory of her grandmother (the school has a zero tolerance policy against the rosary, which the school insists can be interpreted as a sign of gang involvement).

Six-year-old Cub Scout Zachary Christie was sentenced to 45 days in reform school after bringing a camping utensil to school that can serve as a fork, knife or spoon.

Even imaginary weapons (hand-drawn pictures of guns, pencils twirled in a “threatening” manner, imaginary bows and arrows, even fingers positioned like guns) can also land a student in detention.

Equally outrageous was the case in New Jersey where several kindergartners were suspended from school for three days for playing a make-believe game of “cops and robbers” during recess and using their fingers as guns.

With the distinctions between student offenses erased, and all offenses expellable, we now find ourselves in the midst of what Time magazine described as a “national crackdown on Alka-Seltzer.” Students have actually been suspended from school for possession of the fizzy tablets in violation of zero tolerance drug policies.

Students have also been penalized for such inane “crimes” as bringing nail clippers to school, using Listerine or Scope, and carrying fold-out combs that resemble switchblades.

A 13-year-old boy in Manassas, Virginia, who accepted a Certs breath mint from a classmate, was actually suspended and required to attend drug-awareness classes, while a 12-year-old boy who said he brought powdered sugar to school for a science project was charged with a felony for possessing a look-alike drug.

Acts of kindness, concern, basic manners or just engaging in childish behavior can also result in suspensions.

One 13-year-old was given detention for exposing the school to “liability” by sharing his lunch with a hungry friend. A third grader was suspended for shaving her head in sympathy for a friend who had lost her hair to chemotherapy. And then there was the high school senior who was suspended for saying “bless you” after a fellow classmate sneezed.

In South Carolina, where it’s against the law to disturb a school, more than a thousand students a year—some as young as 7 years old—“face criminal charges for not following directions, loitering, cursing, or the vague allegation of acting ‘obnoxiously.’ If charged as adults, they can be held in jail for up to 90 days.”

Another 12-year-old was handcuffed and jailed after he stomped in a puddle, splashing classmates.

Things get even worse when you add police to the mix.

Thanks to a combination of media hype, political pandering and financial incentives, the use of armed police officers (a.k.a. school resource officers) to patrol school hallways has risen dramatically in the years since the Columbine school shooting (nearly 20,000 by 2003).

What this means, notes Mother Jones, is greater police “involvement in routine discipline matters that principals and parents used to address without involvement from law enforcement officers.”

Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, these school resource officers (SROs) have become de facto wardens in the elementary, middle and high schools, doling out their own brand of justice to the so-called “criminals” in their midst with the help of tasers, pepperspray, batons and brute force.

As a result, students are not only being ticketed, fined and sent to court for behavior perceived as defiant, disruptive or disorderly such as spraying perfume and writing on a desk, but they are also finding themselves subjected to police tactics such as handcuffs, leg shackles, tasers and excessive force for “acting up.”

In the absence of school-appropriate guidelines, police are more and more “stepping in to deal with minor rulebreaking: sagging pants, disrespectful comments, brief physical skirmishes. What previously might have resulted in a detention or a visit to the principal’s office was replaced with excruciating pain and temporary blindness, often followed by a trip to the courthouse.”

The horror stories are legion.

One SRO is accused of punching a 13-year-old student in the face for cutting in the cafeteria line. That same cop put another student in a chokehold a week later, allegedly knocking the student unconscious and causing a brain injury.

In Pennsylvania, a student was tased after ignoring an order to put his cell phone away.

On any given day when school is in session, kids who “act up” in class are pinned face down on the floor, locked in dark closets, tied up with straps, bungee cords and duct tape, handcuffed, leg shackled, tasered or otherwise restrained, immobilized or placed in solitary confinement in order to bring them under “control.”

Roughly 1500 kids are tied up or locked down every day by school officials in the United States.

At least 500 students are locked up in some form of solitary confinement every day, whether it be a padded room, a closet or a duffel bag. In many cases, parents are rarely notified when such methods are used.

In almost every case, these undeniably harsh methods are used to punish kids for simply failing to follow directions or throwing tantrums.

Very rarely do the kids pose any credible danger to themselves or others.

For example, a 4-year-old Virginia preschooler was handcuffed, leg shackled and transported to the sheriff’s office after reportedly throwing blocks and climbing on top of the furniture. School officials claim the restraints were necessary to protect the adults from injury.

A 6-year-old kindergarten student in a Georgia public school was handcuffed, transported to the police station, and charged with simple battery of a schoolteacher and criminal damage to property for throwing a temper tantrum at school.

Unbelievably, these tactics are all legal, at least when employed by school officials or school resource officers in the nation’s public schools.

According to a ProPublica investigative report, such harsh punishments are part of a widespread phenomenon plaguing school districts across the country.

Indeed, as investigative reporter Heather Vogell points out, this is a local story everywhere.

It’s happening in my town.

It’s happening in your town.

It’s happening in every school district in America.

This is the end product of all those so-called school “safety” policies, which run the gamut from zero tolerance policies that punish all infractions harshly to surveillance cameras, metal detectors, random searches, drug-sniffing dogs, school-wide lockdowns, active-shooter drills and militarized police officers.

Mind you, this is all part of the government’s plan to “harden” the schools.

What exactly does hardening the schools entail?

More strident zero tolerance policiesgreater numbers of school cops, and all the trappings of a prison complex (unsurmountable fences, entrapment areas, no windows or trees, etc.).

Schools acting like prisons.

School officials acting like wardens.

Students treated like inmates and punished like hardened criminals.

Even in the face of parental outrage, lawsuits, legislative reforms, investigative reports and endless cases showing that these tactics are not working and “should never be used for punishment or discipline,” full-grown adults—police officers and teachers alike—insist that the reason they continue to handcuff, lock up and restrain little kids is because they fear for their safety and the safety of others.

“Fear for one’s safety” has become such a hackneyed and threadbare excuse for behavior that is inexcusable.

Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that explanation covers a multitude of sins, whether it’s poorly trained police officers who shoot first and ask questions later, or school officials who are ill-equipped to deal with children who act like children, meaning they don’t always listen, they sometimes throw tantrums, and they have a hard time sitting still.

Unfortunately, advocates for such harsh police tactics and weaponry like to trot out the line that school safety should be our first priority lest we find ourselves with another Sandy Hook. What they will not tell you is that such shootings are rare. As one congressional report found, the schools are, generally speaking, safe places for children.

In their zeal to crack down on guns and lock down the schools, these cheerleaders for police state tactics in the schools might also fail to mention the lucrative, multi-million dollar deals being cut with military contractors such as Taser International to equip these school cops with tasers, tanks, rifles and $100,000 shooting detection systems.

Indeed, the transformation of hometown police departments into extensions of the military has been mirrored in the public schools, where school police have been gifted with high-powered M16 rifles, MRAP armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and other military gear. One Texas school district even boasts its own 12-member SWAT team.

According to one law review article on the school-to-prison pipeline:

Many school districts have formed their own police departments, some so large they rival the forces of major United States cities in size. For example, the safety division in New York City’s public schools is so large that if it were a local police department, it would be the fifth-largest police force in the country.

The ramifications are far-reaching.

The term “school-to-prison pipeline” refers to a phenomenon in which children who are suspended or expelled from school have a greater likelihood of ending up in jail.

As if it weren’t bad enough that the nation’s schools have come to resemble prisons, the government is also contracting with private prisons to lock up our young people for behaviour that once would have merited a stern lecture. Nearly 40 percent of those young people who are arrested will serve time in a private prison, where the emphasis is on making profits for large megacorporations above all else.

This profit-driven system of incarceration has also given rise to a growth in juvenile prisons and financial incentives for jailing young people.

Indeed, young people have become easy targets for the private prison industry, which profits from criminalizing childish behavior and jailing young people. For instance, two Pennsylvania judges made headlines when it was revealed that they had been conspiring with two businessmen in a $2.6 million “kids for cash” scandal that resulted in more than 2500 children being found guilty and jailed in for-profit private prisons.

So what’s the answer, not only for the here-and-now—the children growing up in these quasi-prisons—but for the future of this country?

Peter Gray, a professor of psychology at Boston College, believes that school is a prison that is damaging our kids, and it’s hard to disagree, especially with the numbers of police officers being assigned to schools on the rise.

Clearly, the pathology that characterizes the American police state has passed down to the schools. Now in addition to the government and its agents viewing the citizenry as suspects to be probed, poked, pinched, tasered, searched, seized, stripped and generally manhandled, all with the general blessing of the court, our children in the public schools are also fair game.

Instead of raising up a generation of freedom fighters, however, we seem to be busy churning out newly minted citizens of the American police state who are being taught the hard way what it means to comply, fear and march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.

After all, how do you convince a child who has been routinely handcuffed, shackled, tied down, locked up, and immobilized by government officials—all before he reaches the age of adulthood—that he has any rights at all, let alone the right to challenge wrongdoing, resist oppression and defend himself against injustice?

Most of all, how do you persuade a fellow American that the government works for him when for most of his young life, he has been incarcerated in an institution that teaches young people to be obedient and compliant citizens who don’t talk back, don’t question and don’t challenge authority?

What can be done?

Without a doubt, change is needed, but that will mean taking on the teachers’ unions, the school unions, the educators’ associations, and the police unions, not to mention the politicians dependent on their votes and all of the corporations that profit mightily from an industrial school complex.

As we’ve seen with other issues, any significant reforms will have to start locally and trickle upwards.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, with every school police raid and overzealous punishment that is carried out in the name of school safety, the lesson being imparted is that Americans—especially young people—have no rights at all against the state or the police.

If we do not rein in the police state’s influence in the schools, the future to which we are sending our children will be characterized by a brutal, totalitarian regime.

Class and Race in Child Adoption

Despite the illusion of adoption as an altruistic child-saving social service . . .  adoption is deeply imbued in classism, nearly always redistributing children from economically at-risk “unmarried” or “too young” mothers and fathers, or those in temporary crisis, to adopters of higher socio-economic status who can afford the tens of thousands of dollars that babies cost.

Some call it Class Warfare. I have dubbed it Reverse Robinhoodism.

Worldwide, poverty far exceeds abuse, neglect, or abandonment as the reason for adoption surrenders.

It is the poor states that produce the children and the rich that consume them. In this process, poor parents are left behind, serving only as the initial fabricators of other people’s children.

— Debora L. Spar, Harvard School of Business (2006)

Finances are also the number one reason American mothers surrender children for adoption. Reuben Pannor, author, researcher, teacher, and past director of Vista Del Mar Adoption Agency in California, reported:

Most infants placed for adoption come from poor families. …This is a sad commentary on the richest and most powerful country in the world. Even poor married couples are relinquishing their children.

USA Today, May 18, 2009, cover story tells of Renee, a 36-year-old mother of three teens who earns $50,000 a year. Renee relinquished her fourth child, a baby she briefly breastfed because of financial strain on her and her children.

Race

“ . . . the demographics of those in need of loving homes do not precisely match the demographics of those seeking a new child. Adoptive parents are disproportionately white. Adopted children are not,” David French, senior writer at National Review, and a white Evangelical Christian man from “middle Tennessee”, who together with his wife, adopted a child from Ethiopia.

Race has been a controversial issue in adoption for decades. In 1972 the National Association of Black Social Workers famously declared white adoption of black children to be a form of “cultural genocide.” Many still believe they were right. Cries of cultural imperialism and colonialism continue to question whether or not to place babies and children of color in white households, and now, in addition, there are questions about cost differences, and “white savior syndrome.”

Adoption fees for babies and children vary based on age, health, and race. The cost to adopt a Caucasian child was approximately $35,000, plus some legal expenses.  Black babies cost about $18,000 and a biracial children between $24,000 and $26,000. Six Words: ‘Black Babies Cost Less to Adopt’, NPR, June 27, 2013.

When a couple seeking to adopt a white baby is charged $35,000 and a couple seeking a black baby is charged $4,000, the image that comes to the Rev. Ken Hutcherson’s mind is of a practice that was outlawed in America nearly 150 years ago . . . What’s the difference between that and slavery?

The cost difference rises from the supply and demand manner by which adoptions are arranged.  “If you’re white, as most transracial parents are, it’s easier to adopt a nonwhite child because more of them are available for adoption. . . Worldwide, it’s often easier to adopt black, Asian, and Hispanic children than white children,” says Sharon Perkins, Advantages & Disadvantages of Interracial Adoption.

Jacquelynn Moffett, president of Homes for Black Children in Detroit agrees that the racially-skewed menu of prices to adopt children based on race “looks like a slave poster.” She adds: “As a Black person, it’s totally offensive.”

Stacey Patton wrote about racism in the case of the intentional car crash in California that killed six abused Black children adopted by two white women, Sarah and Jennifer Hart, calling them “completely functional white people in white supremacist America who sought to commodify and abuse Black bodies.”

 . . .racialized sadism that jumps off the pages and harkens back to the slavery era when white plantation mistresses, America’s first transracial adopters, meted out brutal treatment against enslaved Black children. The way Sarah and Jennifer were controlling these children—starving them, keeping them in line in this creepy way, humiliating them, calling them liars and gaslighting them—reeks of racialized control, amusement, and ownership.

White people also have a long history of fetishizing racial Others that they fear. Sarah and Jennifer would give every indication of having had a deep and unspoken inherent fear of Black people.

Celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock, and Madonna have not only role modeled adoption but glamorize Inter-racial adoption as the height of liberalism or what some call “virtual signaling” – far better than any bumper sticker can.  But “intent, like being colorblind, doesn’t really get you that far.”

LaSha writes on Kinfolk Kollektive: Blogging While Black, “Adopting Black Children is Not Your Chance to Prove You’re Not Racist.” She states:

No, adopting a black child is not an opportunity to prove you’re not racist or be heralded for wanting the undesirable and loving the unlovable.

A white parent adopting a black child must first understand that no matter how much they’d like to believe that race is not real or pretend they don’t see color, that black child is dealing with the very real social ramifications of his race and color. That parent needs to recognize that the needs of that black child are different emotionally, socially, mentally, and physically. That parent needs to be committed to the Herculean task of making their home, with all the subconscious subtle hostilities learned through decades of an inevitable socialization of suspicion, a space where that black child feels free from the ever-looming burden of racism. . .

She points out that Whites who adopt interracially need to be aware of the “baggage” of their privilege and that “the amount of money you make, the places that your kids have access to because of your status, class, and your Whiteness” don’t excuse you from considering what you need to do to help your adopted child of color adjust to a world other than the one he or she was born into.”

The acknowledgement of a black child’s blackness by white parents is a delicate thing. It must be constant yet never blaring. It must become effortless yet conscious. It must be broached such that the child realizes black is everything he is but not all he is. A white parent of a black child must be skilled at navigating the intricacies of that child’s racial identity such that it becomes as natural as breathing….

[B]lack parents raising black children have been black children. White parents of black children have been white children. The disadvantage is nearly insurmountable. The victory is never flawless. And the preparation is never enough.

The Pitt Family

Jolie described a desire to create a “rainbow family.”  To some this is reminiscent of collecting souvenirs from places visited, or a desire to model a more multicultural world –  a world in which race is a non-issue.  But it is not any child’s responsibility to be used for your political motives, no matter how noble.

Making the world free of perceived racial differences is a worthwhile goal that might be better accomplished by interracially dating and marrying and having biracial children – difficult enough for many such children –  or adding an adopted child or children to that mix, rather than adopting a child into a family with no one who looks like him and putting the onus on an innocent child who did not agree to be a spokesperson for your cause.

Others, like the Frenches, adopt to fulfill an Evangelical act of charity as described in The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption by Kathryn Joyce. Ironically, French and others who, believe they are called by God to adopt, blame both the racist alt-right and leftists for disparaging them for doing so. French writes of “attacks” on his family from “the left” online and in person, bizarrely pointing to the adoption tax credit that was created to encourage special needs adoption which was expanded under Bill Clinton and made fully refundable under the Obama administration as his evidence.

French argues that adoptive families – all adoptive families – were caught in an IRS “dragnet” having to prove their adoption expenses were legitimate. What this has to do with persecution of interracial adoptive families is left to the bewilderment of readers of his Atlantic treatise. He concludes that compared to the alt-right, “at least” progressive critics didn’t torment them with photo-shopped pictures of his young child being killed.

Some are far more critical of White families who adopt interracially. LaSha says:

White people who adopt black children don’t deserve reverence and praise for doing the unthinkable. White parents of black children also don’t get to christen themselves black by proxy, carelessly draping themselves in the adornments of soul food, hip hop, and braided hairstyles they have been brainwashed to believe encompass the entirety of blackness. And black people most certainly should not be bestowing irreproachability on these people, as if a choice to adopt a black child demonstrates an absolute commitment to being anti-racist and deconstructing white supremacy.

What Interracial Adoptees Say

 A 1999 study published in “The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry” found that about 50 percent of Asian and Black adoptees felt discomfort over their racial appearance.

Prospective adopters can gain invaluable insights by reading the writings of adults who experienced being interracially adopted.  Many have been voicing their experience and their reality.  The blog Banana Writers gives voice to Asian adoptees.

One such prolific writer is Lucy Sheen, who is also an actor, poet and filmmaker, who describes her experience as an Asian adoptee growing up in the UK, “made in Hong Kong, exported to the UK in the late 50s early 60s” saying her face was a permanent reminder. She was “not like them, did not come from them.”

 . . .no one wants to be so different that you stick out like a sore thumb. Different yes, but not that different. No child wants to be picked on. You want to be liked by everyone else. You want to be picked to play games and not be the last to be chosen. You want to be part of the group, go to parties, visit your friends’ houses and play . . .

I was different. I was the ‘other’. I was something they had never seen before. It’s something that I battle with every day though now it’s at a subconscious level. Occasionally, someone or a situation will stand out and consciously make me take active umbrage or make me feel like I’m back in the school playground being picked on. But it’s not very often these days.

Another good source for learning what it is like being internationally and interracially adopted is afforded us by Jane Joeng Trenka author of: The Language of Blood, and Fugitive Visions: An Adoptee’s Return to Korea along with Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption, which she co-wrote with Julia Chinyere Oparah. Also see Foreign Goods: A Selection of Writing by British East Asian Artists by Jingan Young.

Nicky Campbell, host of the TLC reunion show, Long Lost Family, who was adopted as a baby, notes that interracial adoption adds “an extra layer of identity problems” for children. He, and others, agree the issue is far deeper than “love.”  It would be helpful, if before considering an interracial adoption, White adopters made an effort to learn about White privilege and entitlement and what it means to be a good ally to POC, lest they unintentionally come from a position of savior.

If you adopt interracially you become an interracial family with all that entails, and you have to be prepared for people staring and asking uncomfortable and invasive questions, often in front of your child. If you are not prepared to deal with anti-Black sentiments prevalent in this nation, it is probably best not to add a Black child to your family.  Discrimination and racist remarks will not just be hurled at your child, but at you and any other children you may have, as well.  It can be extremely difficult for children of color who are adopted by families who live in lily-white communities as opposed to more urban and diverse neighborhoods.

The popular NBC series This is US featured some issues facing a Black boy as he grows into a man in a White family with two white siblings. Growing up, the character named Randall sought out others who looked like him, while his adoptive mother dealt with hair and skin care issues.

One would hope that pre-adoption counseling would make this clear and be part of any vetting process. However, adoption agencies in America placing children domestically or from overseas are businesses, concerned more about their bottom line by providing a child for those who are willing to pay for one above any concerns for child welfare. Even state foster care whether privatized or not rely on federal bonuses for completing adoptions.  Many who claim difficulty finding homes for Black children don’t do their due diligence. It is thus the responsibility of those adopting interracially to do their homework and be sure what their true motivation is and if they are up to serving the special needs of a child of color.

Human Extinction by 2026?

There is almost unanimous agreement among climate scientists and organizations – that is, 97% of over 10,000 climate scientists and the various scientific organizations engaged in climate science research – that human beings have caused a dramatic increase in the amount of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide released into Earth’s atmosphere since the pre-industrial era and that this is driving the climate catastrophe that continues to unfold.

However, there is no consensus regarding the time frame in which this climate catastrophe will cause human extinction. This lack of consensus is primarily due to the global elite controlling the public perception of this time frame with frequent talk of ‘the end of the century’ designed to allow ongoing profit maximization through ‘business as usual’ for as long as possible. Why has this happened?

When evidence of the climate catastrophe (including the pivotal role of burning fossil fuels) became incontrovertible, which meant that the fossil fuel industry’s long-standing efforts to prevent action on the climate catastrophe had finally ended, the industry shifted its focus to arguing that the time frame, which it presented as ‘end of the century’, meant that we could defer action (and thus profit-maximization through business as usual could continue indefinitely). Consequently, like the tobacco, sugar and junk food industries, the fossil fuel industry has employed a range of tactics to deflect attention from their primary responsibility for a problem and to delay action on it.

These well-worn tactics include suggesting that the research is incomplete and more research needs to be done, funding ‘research’ to come up with ‘evidence’ to counter the climate science, employing scholars to present this ‘research’, discrediting honest climate scientists, infiltrating regulatory bodies to water down (or reverse) decisions and recommendations that would adversely impact profits, setting up ‘concerned’ groups to act as ‘fronts’ for the industry, making generous political donations to individuals and political parties as well as employing lobbyists.

As a result of its enormous power too, the global elite has been able to control much of the funding available for climate science research and a great deal of the information about it that is made widely available to the public, particularly through its corporate media. For this reason, the elite wields enormous power to shape the dialogue in relation to both the climate science and the time frame.

Therefore, and despite the overwhelming consensus noted above, many climate scientists are reluctant to be fully truthful about the state of the world’s climate or they are just conservative in their assessments of the climate catastrophe. For example, eminent climate scientist Professor James Hansen referred to ‘scientific reticence’ in his article ‘Scientific reticence and sea level rise‘, scientists might be conservative in their research – for example, dependence upon historical records leads to missing about one-fifth of global warming since the 1860s as explained in ‘Reconciled climate response estimates from climate models and the energy budget of Earth‘ – and, in some cases, governments muzzle scientists outright. But many of the forces working against full exposure of the truth are explained in Professor Guy McPherson’s article ‘Climate-Change Summary and Update‘.

However, in contrast to the elite-managed mainstream narrative regarding the climate time frame, there is a group of courageous and prominent climate scientists who offer compelling climate science evidence that human beings, along with millions of other species, will be extinct by 2026 (and perhaps as early as 2021) in response to a projected 10 degree celsius increase in global temperatures above the pre-industrial level by that date.

Before outlining the essence of this article, it is worth noting that the website on which it is posted is Arctic News and the editors of this site post vital articles on the world’s climate by highly prominent climate scientists, such as Professor Peter Wadhams (Emeritus Professor of Polar Ocean Physics at Cambridge University and author of A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic), Dr Andrew Glikson (an Earth and paleoclimate scientist who is a visiting fellow at the Australian National University), Professor Guy McPherson who has written extensively and lectures all over the world on the subject, and ‘Sam Carana’, the pseudonym used by a group of climate scientists concerned to avoid too many adverse impacts on their research, careers and funding by declaring themselves publicly but nevertheless committed to making the truth available for those who seek it.

So, in a few brief points, let me summarize the evidence and argument outlined in the article ‘Will humans be extinct by 2026?’

The Climate Science of Destruction of the Biosphere

In the Arctic, there is a vast amount of carbon stored in soils that are now still largely frozen; this frozen soil is called permafrost. But as Arctic temperatures continue to rise and the permafrost thaws, in response to the warming that has occurred already (and is ongoing) by burning fossil fuels and farming animals for human consumption, much of this carbon will be converted into carbon dioxide or methane and released into the atmosphere. There is also a vast amount of methane – in the form of methane hydrates and free gas – stored in sediments under the Arctic Ocean seafloor. As temperatures rise, these sediments are being destabilized and will soon result in massive eruptions of methane from the ocean floor. ‘Due to the abrupt character of such releases and the fact that many seas in the Arctic Ocean are shallow, much of the methane will then enter the atmosphere without getting broken down in the water.’

Adversely impacting this circumstance is that the sea ice continues to retreat as the polar ice cap melts in response to the ongoing temperature increases. Because sea ice reflects sunlight back into Space, as the ice retreats more sunlight hits the (dark-colored) ocean (which absorbs the sunlight) and warms the ocean even more. This causes even more ice melt in what becomes an ongoing self-reinforcing feedback loop that ultimately impacts worldwide, such as triggering huge firestorms in forests and peatlands in North America and Russia.

More importantly, however, without sea ice, storms develop more easily and because they mix warm surface waters with the colder water at the bottom of shallow seas, reaching cracks in sediments filled with ice which acts as a glue holding the sediment together, the ice melt destabilizes the sediments, which are vulnerable to even small differences in temperature and pressure that are triggered by earthquakes, undersea landslides or changes in ocean currents.

As a result, huge amounts of methane can erupt from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and once this occurs, it will further raise temperatures, especially over the Arctic, thus acting as another self-reinforcing feedback loop that again makes the situation even worse in the Arctic, with higher temperatures causing even further methane releases, contributing to the vicious cycle that precipitates ‘runaway global warming’.

‘These developments can take place at such a speed that adaptation will be futile. More extreme weather events can hit the same area with a succession of droughts, cold snaps, floods, heat waves and wildfires that follow each other up rapidly. Within just one decade [from 2016], the combined impact of extreme weather, falls in soil quality and air quality, habitat loss and shortages of food, water, shelter and just about all the basic things needed to sustain life can threaten most, if not all, life on Earth with extinction.’

The article goes on to outline how the 10 degree increase (above the pre-industrial level) by 2026 is likely to occur. It will involve further carbon dioxide and methane releases from human activity (particularly driving cars and other vehicles, flying in aircraft and eating animal products, as well as military violence), ongoing reduction of snow and ice cover around the world (thus reflecting less sunlight back into Space), an increase in the amount of water vapor (a greenhouse gas) in the atmosphere, a falling away of ‘aerosol masking’ (which has helped reduce the impact of emissions so far) as emissions decline, as well as methane eruptions from the ocean floor. If you would like to read more about this and see the graphs and substantial documentation, you can do so in the article cited above: ‘Will humans be extinct by 2026?’

The Ecology of Destruction of the Biosphere

Not that these scientists, who focus on the climate, discuss it but there are other human activities adversely impacting Earth’s biosphere which also threaten near-term extinction for humans, particularly given their synergistic impacts.

For example, recent research has drawn attention to the fact that the ‘alarming loss of insects will likely take down humanity before global warming hits maximum velocity…. The worldwide loss of insects is simply staggering with some reports of 75% up to 90%, happening much faster than the paleoclimate record rate of the past five major extinction events’. Without insects ‘burrowing, forming new soil, aerating soil, pollinating food crops…’ and providing food for many bird species, the biosphere simply collapses.

Moreover, apart from ongoing destruction of other vital components of Earth’s life support system such as the rainforests – currently being destroyed at the rate of 80,000 acres each day – and oceans which is generating an extinction rate of 200 species (plants, birds, animals, fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles) each day with another 26,000 species already identified as ‘under threat’ some prominent scholars have explained how even these figures mask a vital component of the rapidly accelerating catastrophe of species extinctions: the demise of local populations of a species.

In addition, relying on our ignorance and our complicity, elites kill vast areas of Earth’s biosphere through war and other military violence, subject it to uncontrolled releases of radioactive contamination and use geo-engineering to wage war on Earth’s climate, environment and ultimately ourselves.

Separately from all of this, we live under the unending threat of nuclear war.

This is because insane political and corporate elites are still authorizing and manufacturing more of these highly profitable weapons rather than dismantling them all (as well as conventional weapons) and redirecting the vast resources devoted to ongoing military killing (US$1.7 trillion annually) to environmental restoration and programs of social uplift.

By the way, if you think the risk of nuclear war can be ignored, you might find this recent observation sobering. In a review of (former US nuclear war planner) Daniel Ellsberg’s recent book The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Earth and paleoclimate scientist Dr Andrew Glikson summarized the book as follows:

This, then, is the doomsday machine. Not simply the existence of fission weapons or unspeakably destructive hydrogen bombs, but the whole network rigged together: thousands of them on hair-trigger alert, command and control equipment built in the 1970s and ’80s, millions of lines of antique code sitting on reels of magnetic tape or shuffled around on floppy discs even now. An architecture tended by fallible and deeply institutionalized human beings.

So, irrespective of whether elites or their agents or even we acknowledge it, Earth’s biosphere is under siege on many fronts and, very soon now, Earth will not support life. Any honest news source routinely reports one or another aspect of the way in which humans are destroying the Earth and perhaps suggests courses of action to respond powerfully to it. This, of course, does not include the insane global elite’s corporate media, which functions to distract us from any semblance of the truth.

How did all this happen?

How did human beings end up in a situation that human extinction is likely to occur within eight years (even assuming we can avert nuclear war)? And is there any prospect of doing enough about it now to avert this extinction?

To answer the first question briefly: We arrived at this juncture in our history because of a long sequence of decisions, essentially made by elites to expand their profit, power and privilege, and which they then imposed on us and which we did not resist powerfully enough.

In any case, the key questions now are simply these: Is it too late to avert our own extinction? And, if not, what must we do?

Well, I am not going to dwell on it but some scientists believe it is too late: we have already passed the point of no return. Professor Guy McPherson is one of these scientists, with a comprehensive explanation and a great deal of evidence to support it in his long and heavily documented article ‘Climate-Change Summary and Update‘.

So, the fundamental question is this: If we assume (highly problematically I acknowledge) that it is possible to avert our own extinction by 2026, what must we do?

Because we need to address, in a strategic manner, the interrelated underlying causes that are driving the rush to extinction, let me first identify one important symptom of these underlying causes and then the underlying structural and behavioral causes themselves. Finally, let me invite your participation in (one or more aspects of) a comprehensive strategy designed to address all of this.

As in the past, at least initially, the vast bulk of the human population is not going to respond to this crisis in any way. We need to be aware of this but not let it get in our way. There is a straightforward explanation for it.

Fear or, far more accurately, unconscious terror will ensure that the bulk of the human population will not investigate or seriously consider the scientific evidence in relation to the ongoing climate catastrophe, despite its implications for them personally and humanity generally (not to mention other species and the biosphere). Moreover, given that climate science is not an easy subject with which to grapple, elite control of most media in relation to it (including, most of the time, by simply excluding mention of key learning from the climate scientists) ensures that public awareness, while reasonably high, is not matched by knowledge, which is negligible.

As a result, most people will fearfully, unintelligently and powerlessly accept the delusions, distractions and denial that are promulgated by the insane global elite through its various propaganda channels including the corporate media, public relations and entertainment industries, as well as educational institutions. This propaganda always includes the implicit message that people can’t (and shouldn’t) do anything in response to the climate catastrophe (invariably and inaccurately, benignly described as ‘climate change’).

A primary way in which the corporate media reports the issue but frames it for a powerless response is to simply distribute ‘news’ about each climate-related event without connecting it either with other climate-related events or even mentioning it as yet another symptom of the climate catastrophe. Even if they do mention these connections, they reliably mention distant dates for phenomena like ‘heatwaves’ repeating themselves and an overall ‘end of century’ time frame to preclude the likelihood that any sense of urgency will arise.

The net outcome of all this, as I stated above, is that the bulk of the human population will not respond to the crisis in the short term (as it hasn’t so far) with most of what limited response there is confined to powerlessly lobbying elite-controlled governments.

However, as long as you consider responding – and by responding, I mean responding strategically – and then do respond, you become a powerful agent of change, including by recruiting others through your example.

But before I present the strategy, let me identify the major structural and behavioral causes that are driving the climate catastrophe and destruction of the biosphere, and explain why some key elements of this strategy are focused on tackling these underlying causes.

The Political Economy of Destruction of the Biosphere

The global elite ensures that it has political control of the biosphere as well as Space by using various systems, structures and processes that it largely created (over the past few centuries) and now controls, including the major institutions of governance in the world such as national governments and key international organizations like the United Nations.

It does this, for example, so that it can economically utilize, via the exploitative mechanisms of capitalism and its corporations (which the elite also created), domains of the biosphere rich in resources, particularly fossil fuels, strategic minerals and fresh water. The elite will use any means – including psychological manipulation, propaganda issued by its corporate media, national educational institutions, legal systems and extraordinary military violence – to achieve this outcome whatever the cost to life on Earth.

In short, the global elite is so insane that its members believe that killing and exploiting fellow human beings and destroying the biosphere are simply good ways to make a profit. Of course, they do not perceive us as fellow human beings; they perceive and treat us as a great deal less. This is why, for example, the elite routinely uses its military forces to attack impoverished and militarily primitive countries so that they can steal their resources.

But they are happy to steal from those of us living in western economies too, with Professor Barbara G. Ellis issuing the latest warning about yet another way this could easily happen.

Anyway, because of elite control of governments, it is a waste of time lobbying politicians if we want action on virtually all issues that concern us, particularly the ‘big issues’ that threaten extinction, such as the climate catastrophe, environmental destruction and war (especially the threat of nuclear war). While in very limited (and usually social) contexts (such as issues in relation to the right of women to abortions or rights for the LGBTQIA communities), when it doesn’t significantly adversely impact elite priorities, gains are sometimes made (at least temporarily) by mobilizing sufficient people to pressure politicians. This has two beneficial outcomes for elites: it keeps many people busy on ‘secondary issues’ (from the elite perspective) that do not impact elite profit, power and privilege; and it reinforces the delusion that democracy ‘works’.

However, in the contexts that directly impact elite concerns (such as their unbridled exploitation of the biosphere for profit), politicians serve their elite masters, even to the extent that any laws that might appear to have been designed to impede elite excesses (such as pollution generated by their activities) are readily ignored if necessary, with legal penalties too insignificant to deter phenomenally wealthy corporations.

Of course, if any government does not obey elite directives, it is overthrown. Just ask any independently-minded government over the past century. For a list of governments overthrown by the global elite using its military and ‘intelligence’ agencies since World War II, see William Blum’s book Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II or, for just the list, see ‘Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List’.

How does the elite maintain this control over political, economic, military, legal and social structures and processes?

The Sociology of Destruction of the Biosphere

As explained in the literature on the sociology of knowledge, reality is socially constructed. That is, if an individual is born or introduced into a society in which particular institutions are in control and behaviors such as chronic over-consumption, unlimited profit-making, rampant exploitation of the environment and grotesque violence against (at least some) people are practiced, then the typical individual will accept the existence of these institutions and adopt the behaviors of the people around them even though the institutions and behaviors are dysfunctional and violent.

But while the sociology of knowledge literature recognizes that children ‘must be “taught to behave” and, once taught, must be “kept in line”’ to maintain the institutional order, this literature clearly has no understanding of the nature and extent of the violence to which each child is actually subjected in order to achieve the desired ‘socialization’. This terrorization, as I label it, is so comprehensive that the typical child quickly becomes incapable of using their own intellectual and emotional capacities, including conscience and courage, to actually evaluate any institution or behavior before accepting/adopting it themselves. Obviously then, they quickly become too terrified to overtly challenge dysfunctional institutions and behaviors as well.

Moreover, as a result of this ongoing terrorization, inflicted by the significant adults (and particularly the parents) in the child’s life, the child soon becomes too (unconsciously) afraid to resist the behavioral violence that is inflicted on them personally in many forms, as outlined briefly in the next section, so that they are ‘taught to behave’ and are ‘kept in line’.

In response to elite-driven imperatives then, such as ‘you are what you own’ to encourage very profitable over-consumption, most people are delusionarily ‘happy’ while utterly trapped behaving exactly as elites manipulate them – they are devoid of the psychological capacity to critique and resist – and the elite-preferred behavior quickly acquires the status of being ‘the only and the right way to behave’, irrespective of its dysfunctionality.

In essence: virtually all humans fearfully adopt dysfunctional social behaviors such as over-consumption and profit-making at the expense of the biosphere, rather than intelligently, conscientiously and courageously analyzing the total situation (including the moral and ecological dimensions of it) and behaving appropriately in the context.

Given the pervasiveness and power of elite institutions, ranging from those mentioned above to the corporate media and psychiatry, resistance to violent socialization (of both children and adults) requires considerable awareness, not to mention courage.

And so our fear makes virtually all of us succumb to the socialization pressure (that is, violence) to accept existing institutions and participate in widespread social behaviors (such as over-consumption) that are dysfunctional and violent.

The Psychology of Destruction of the Biosphere

This happens because each child, from birth, is terrorized (again: what we like to call ‘socialized’) until they become a slave willing to work and, in industrialized countries at least, to over-consume as directed.

Under an unrelenting regime of ‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence, each child unconsciously surrenders their search in pursuit of their own unique and powerful destiny and succumbs to the obedience that every adult demands. Why do adults demand this? Because the idea of a powerful child who courageously follows their own Self-will terrifies adults. So how does this happen?

Unfortunately, far too easily and, strange though it may seem, it is not just the ‘visible’ violence (such as hitting, screaming at and sexually abusing) that we normally label ‘violence’ that causes the main damage, although this is extremely damaging. The largest component of damage arises from the  ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence that we adults unconsciously inflict on children during the ordinary course of the day. Tragically, the bulk of this violence occurs in the family home and at school.

So what is ‘invisible’ violence? It is the ‘little things’ we do every day, partly because we are just ‘too busy’. For example, when we do not allow time to listen to, and value, a child’s thoughts and feelings, the child learns to not listen to themself thus destroying their internal communication system. When we do not let a child say what they want (or ignore them when they do), the child develops communication and behavioral dysfunctionalities as they keep trying to meet their own needs (which, as a basic survival strategy, they are genetically programmed to do).

When we blame, condemn, insult, mock, embarrass, shame, humiliate, taunt, goad, guilt-trip, deceive, lie to, bribe, blackmail, moralize with and/or judge a child, we both undermine their sense of Self-worth and teach them to blame, condemn, insult, mock, embarrass, shame, humiliate, taunt, goad, guilt-trip, deceive, lie, bribe, blackmail, moralize and/or judge.

The fundamental outcome of being bombarded throughout their childhood by this ‘invisible’ violence is that the child is utterly overwhelmed by feelings of fear, pain, anger and sadness (among many others). However, mothers, fathers, teachers, religious figures and other adults also actively interfere with the expression of these feelings and the behavioral responses that are naturally generated by them and it is this ‘utterly invisible’ violence that explains why the dysfunctional behavioral outcomes actually occur.

For example, by ignoring a child when they express their feelings, by comforting, reassuring or distracting a child when they express their feelings, by laughing at or ridiculing their feelings, by terrorizing a child into not expressing their feelings (for instance, by screaming at them when they cry or get angry), and/or by violently controlling a behavior that is generated by their feelings (for example, by hitting them, restraining them or locking them into a room), the child has no choice but to unconsciously suppress their awareness of these feelings.

However, once a child has been terrorized into suppressing their awareness of their feelings (rather than being allowed to have their feelings and to act on them) the child has also unconsciously suppressed their awareness of the reality that caused these feelings. This has many outcomes that are disastrous for the individual, for society and for the biosphere because the individual will now easily suppress their awareness of the feelings that would tell them how to act most functionally in any given circumstance and they will progressively acquire a phenomenal variety of dysfunctional behaviors, including some that are violent towards themself, others and/or the Earth.

Moreover, terrorizing the child has many flow-on effects. For example, once you terrorise a child into accepting certain information about themself, other people or the state of the world, the child becomes unconsciously fearful of dealing with new information, especially if this information is contradictory to what they have been terrorized into believing. As a result, the child will unconsciously dismiss new information out of hand.

In short, the child has been terrorized in such a way that they are no longer capable of learning (or their learning capacity is seriously diminished by excluding any information that is not a simple extension of what they already ‘know’). This is one important explanation why some people are ‘climate deniers’ and most others do nothing in response to the climate catastrophe.

Consequently, under this onslaught of terror and violence, the child surrenders their own unique Self and takes on their socially constructed delusional identity which gives them relief from being terrorized while securing the approval they crave to survive.

So if we want to end violence against the biosphere, we must tackle this fundamental cause. Primarily, this means giving everyone, child and adult alike, all of the space they need to feel, deeply, what they want to do, and to then let them do it (or to have the emotional responses they naturally have if they are prevented from doing so).

For some insight into the critical role that school plays in reducing virtually all children to wage slaves for employment in some menial or ‘professional’ role or as ‘cannon fodder’ for the military, while stripping them of the capacity to ask penetrating questions about the very nature of society and their own role in it, see ‘Do We Want School or Education?’

In summary, given that human society is so dysfunctional, beginning with the fact that human beings do not know how to parent or educate their children to nurture their unique and extraordinary potential, humans face a monumental challenge, in an incredibly short time frame, to have any chance of survival.

And we are going to have to fix a lot more things than just our destruction of the biosphere if we are to succeed, given that ecologically destructive behavior and institutions have their origin in dysfunctional psychology, societies and political economy.

To reiterate, however, it is our (often unconscious) fear that underpins every problem. Whether it is the fear getting in the way of our capacity to intelligently analyze the various structures and behaviors that generate the interrelated crises in which we now find ourselves or the fear undermining our courage to act powerfully in response to these crises, acknowledging and dealing with our fear is the core of any strategy for survival.

So what’s the plan?

Let’s start with you. If you consider the evidence in relation to destruction of our biosphere, essentially one of two things will happen. Either you will be powerful enough, both emotionally and intellectually, to grapple with this evidence and you will take strategic action that has ongoing positive impact on the crisis or your (unconscious) fear will simply use one of its lifelong mechanisms to remove awareness of what you have just read from your mind or otherwise delude you, such as by making you believe you are powerless to act differently or that you are ‘doing enough already’. This immobilizing fear, whether or not you experience it consciously, is a primary outcome of the terrorization to which you were subjected as a child.

So, if you sense that improving your own functionality – so that you can fully access your emotional responses, conscience and courage – is a priority, try ‘Putting Feelings First‘.

If you already feel able to act powerfully in response to this multi-faceted crisis, in a way that will have strategic impact, you are invited to consider joining those participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘, which outlines a simple plan for people to systematically reduce their consumption, by at least 80%, involving both energy and resources of every kind – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding their individual and community self-reliance in 16 areas, so that all environmental concerns are effectively addressed. You might also consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘.

If you are interested in nurturing children to live by their conscience and to gain the courage necessary to resist elite violence fearlessly, while living sustainably despite the entreaties of capitalism to over-consume, then you are welcome to make ‘My Promise to Children‘. To reiterate: capitalism and other dysfunctional political, economic, military, legal and social structures only thrive because our dysfunctional parenting robs children of their conscience and courage, among many other qualities, while actively teaching them to overconsume as compensation for having vital emotional needs denied.

If you are interested in conducting or participating in a campaign to halt our destruction of the biosphere (or any other manifestation of violence for that matter) you are welcome to consider acting strategically in the way that the extraordinary activist Mohandas K. Gandhi did. Whether you are engaged in a peace, climate, environment or social justice campaign, the 12-point strategic framework and principles are the same.

The two strategic aims and a core list of strategic goals to end war and to end the climate catastrophe, for example, are identified in ‘Campaign Strategic Aims‘ and, using these examples, it is a straightforward task to identify an appropriate set of strategic goals for your local environment campaign. As an aside, the strategic framework to defend against a foreign invading power or a political/military coup, to liberate your country from a dictatorship or a foreign occupation, or to defeat a genocidal assault is explained in ‘Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy‘.

If you would like a straightforward explanation of ‘Nonviolent Action: Why and How it Works‘ and an introduction to what it means to think strategically, try reading about the difference between ‘The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions‘.

If you anticipate violent repression by a ruthless opponent, consider planning and implementing any nonviolent action according to the explanation in ‘Nonviolent Action: Minimizing the Risk of Violent Repression‘.

Finally, if you are going to do nothing in response to this crisis, make it a conscious decision to do nothing. This is far preferable to unconsciously and powerlessly doing nothing by never even considering the evidence or by simply deluding yourself. It also allows you to consciously revise your decision at some point in future if you so wish.

Conclusion

The evidence in relation to destruction of the Earth’s biosphere, leading to ongoing and rapid degradation of all ecosystems and their services, is readily available and overwhelming. The many and varied forms of destruction are having synergistic impact. An insignificant amount of the vast evidence in relation to this destruction is sampled above.

There is a notable group of prominent climate scientists who present compelling evidence that human extinction will occur by 2026 as a result of a projected 10 degree celsius increase in global temperatures above the pre-industrial level by this date. The primary document for this is noted above and this document, together with the evidence it cites, is readily available to be read and analyzed by anyone.

Largely separately from the climate catastrophe (although now increasingly complicated by it), Earth’s sixth mass extinction is already advancing rapidly as we destroy habitat and, on our current trajectory, all species will soon enter the fossil record.

Why? Because we live in a world in which the political, economic, military, legal and social structures and processes of human society are utterly incapable of producing either functional human beings or governance mechanisms that take into account, and respect, the ecological realities of Earth’s biosphere.

So, to reiterate: We are on the fast-track to extinction. On the current trajectory, assuming we can avert nuclear war, some time between 2021 and 2026 the last human will take their final breath.

Our only prospect of survival, and it still has only a remote chance of succeeding, is that a great number of us respond powerfully now and keep mobilizing more people to do so.

If you do absolutely nothing else, consider rearranging your life to exclude all meat from your diet, stop traveling by car and aircraft, substantially reduce your water consumption by scaling down your ownership of electronic devices (which require massive amounts of water to manufacture), and only eat biodynamically or organically grown whole food.

And tell people why you are doing so.

This might give those of us who fight strategically, which can include you if you so choose, a little more time to overturn the structural and remaining behavioral drivers of extinction which will require a profound change in the very nature of human society, including all of its major political, economic, military, legal and social institutions and processes (most of which will need to be abolished).

If this sounds ‘radical’, remember that they are about to vanish anyway. Our strategy must be to replace them with functional equivalents, all of which are readily available (with some briefly outlined in the various documents mentioned in the plan above).

‘It won’t happen’, you might say? And, to be candid, I sincerely believe that you are highly probably right. I have spent a lifetime observing, analyzing, writing about and acting to heal dysfunctional and violent human behavior and, for that reason, I am not going to delude myself that anything less than what I have outlined above will achieve the outcome that I seek: to avert human extinction. But I am realistic.

The insane individuals who control the institutions that are driving extinction will never act to avert it. If they were sane enough to do so, they would have been directing and coordinating these institutions in taking action for the past 40 years. This is why we must resist them strategically. Moreover, I am only too well aware that the bulk of the human population has been terrorized into powerlessness and won’t even act. But our best chance lies in offering them our personal example, and giving them simple and various options for responding effectively.

It is going to be a tough fight for human survival, particularly this late in the ‘game’. Nevertheless, I intend to fight until my last breath. I hope that you will too.

What Future Awaits the Babies of 2018?

Some of you will hate me for what I am about to write.

I’m quite accustomed to it.

It used to be acceptable to ask questions about what future can be expected for children brought into our world now, this world with its increasingly grim environmental prognosis. At one time the bleak forecasts were mostly about extreme heat and pollution. Present projections involve far more: oceans acidifying at dizzying speed and full of microplastics which have now entered the food chain, possible massive methane eruptions from underneath polar ice caps which are melting at a phenomenal rate, water wars driving mass migration which in the future will dwarf anything we have seen so far, the list goes on. But instead of making the debate about children and population growth more relevant than ever: oddly, most of what was once known as “The Left” now considers the subject taboo. Lefties galore, just like right-wingers, will now tell you that everyone has the right to have children and no one should be “shamed” about it. Many also assert that our planet can easily support two or three times its current number of humans … “if we only (do such-and-such, all pitch in to do this or that)…” … which we will certainly NOT all do. As if we had the right, anyway, to keep wiping out other species faster and faster to make that even theoretically possible.

The truth – from my perspective, obviously — is that, however horrifying the forecast for our planetary future becomes, almost no one wants to admit that it is THAT bad. The decision to have children is widely considered to be a Human Right. Even many of us who accept the likelihood of these dire environmental scenarios want to believe that “it will all work out somehow”, that technological solutions will be developed, that humans can adapt to anything.

But above all, many of us who don’t yet have children consider a life without children somewhere in our future to be a tragic and horrifying thing to contemplate. Our genetic and cultural programming is so strong that we will go to almost any lengths to convince ourselves that things are “not that bad” yet, and that whatever horrors are headed our way, they are far enough in the future to make such a grim decision unnecessary.

Full disclosure: I have two grown daughters. I love them more than anything else that has come along in my long life. And when we were pregnant with Honourable Daughter Number 1, I was already having this debate with myself and with her mother. That was in 1987. At that time the Ozone Hole was the growing threat.

That was more than 30 years ago.

I have told both of my daughters that I would not make the same decision today that I made in 1987 and again in 1992. It hurts them to hear it, and it hurts me deeply to say it to them.

Here in Germany where I live as an American Refugee, the population has shrunk from 88 million at the time I first moved here (1987) to 80 million today. Germans are afraid of becoming extinct as a national group. The German government pays people to have children through a generous program of financial support for young parents called “Kindergeld”. This is a government which appears, in some ways, to be pretty concerned about our planet’s future. But it has obviously not connected the dots when it comes to actual humans dealing with actual environmental disaster, in a future that may not be so far off. The governing coalition’s most powerful political party, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), places great value on “family-friendly” politics. The party and the government it led at the time moved to abandon nuclear energy and develop renewables after Fukushima; the CDU and the succeeding governments it has led since then have done some relatively progressive things in the environmental arena, although the current edition is backsliding badly at the moment.

But to admit that the world may be a terrifying place by the time these babies are adults is simply out of the question for them. And it certainly will not help them, or any other political party, to win elections.

Every day, I see happy young women proudly pushing their new babies around our peaceful little village here in baby carriages and strollers. Some of them are Germans. Some of them are refugees and immigrants who appear to feel that they have finally found a safe place to live a normal life. And to a great many in both groups, “a normal life” means having babies. It is what they have always wanted. I look into the faces of these innocent new arrivals and I try to imagine what they will face in 30 years, even if Germany remains the island of relative affluence and economic stability which it is today. But for a vast number of Germans and Americans and people all over the world, a life without children would be incomplete.

And therein lies the crux. Most of us who make that decision are thinking less about that new baby’s future than about our own futures … our own happiness … our own sense of fulfillment. Of course, we plan to do everything within our power to give that child a good life.

Unfortunately, it no longer lies within our power to give those babies a secure future, as I see it. No amount of money in the bank or property amassed, no expensive education, will keep plastic out of the food chain or prevent the planet from overheating drastically. If such a thing were even possible at this late date, it would require a worldwide consensus and fast, decisive, emergency mandatory action. Governments which routinely compete and make war or proxy war against one another would have to drop their jockeying for power and cooperate rapidly to save the planet.

It is, of course, true that a great many young people are largely unaware of the alarming new scientific forecasts which have recently been published, along with urgent appeals from groups of major scientists urging world leaders to take corresponding action. All of this is far beyond the extremely limited imaginative capacity of a great many of our fellow humans. Many of them (especially in the USA) tend, in any case, to be highly skeptical of this whole thing, if they do not label it outright as a “hoax”.

What would it take to make such prospective parents see that the danger is real, urgent, and unparalleled in human history? to convince them that a baby born now – or if not that baby, the next generation — is increasingly likely to face a terrible future?

It would take governments and media and authority figures willing to speak what they now know to be the truth, about what is highly likely and growing more so.

It would require these governments and elites and their presstitute media to take off the Happy-Face Mask, and make the real news the headline story, every day. It’s time.

Catholic Support for War: Another Child Abuse Scandal

On August 14, 2018 a report from a grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania identified 300 Catholic priests across the state who had sexually abused more than 1,000 children. “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades,” the grand jury wrote in one of the broadest inquiries into church sex abuse in U.S. history. Five days earlier, on August 9, in northern Yemen, a Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a school bus with a missile made by Lockheed Martin and supplied to the Saudis by the U.S. government, and 44 children were killed. Just as the horror of abuse of children by priests goes beyond the scope of the report from Pennsylvania, the children traumatized and killed by the U.S. military and its proxies globally number far more than those 44. Only one of these events sparked a crisis and soul-searching both in and out of the Catholic Church, but they both should have.

Some Catholic activists for peace and justice have long lived in a state of crisis with our church and have recognized the scandal of “men of God” who bless and cover for the abuse and murder of innocents through war, economic injustice and institutional racism.

“Over and over again in history the Church has become so corrupt it just cries out to heaven for vengeance,” Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement said in a 1970 interview. “The crisis is something terrific,” she said then, before the problem of sexual abuse of the young was well known. This crisis, she said, was “a result of the corruption in the institutional Church, through money and through their acceptance of the lousy, rotten system.”

A radical even before she became a Catholic in 1927 (“I have said, sometimes flippantly, that the mass of bourgeois smug Christians who denied Christ in His poor made me turn to the Communists, and it was the Communists and working with them that made me turn to God…”) Dorothy never had the “honeymoon” of blind love enjoyed by many new converts and was always conscious of the Church’s flaws and failings. “I was just as much against capitalism and imperialism as ever, and here I was going over to the opposition, because of course the Church was lined up with property, with the wealthy, with the state, with capitalism, with all the forces of reaction,” she wrote in her autobiography, The Long Loneliness. “This I had been taught to think and this I still think to a great extent.”

Even as a new convert, Dorothy deplored “the scandal of businesslike priests, of collective wealth, the lack of a sense of responsibility for the poor, the worker, the Negro, the Mexican, the Filipino, and even the oppression of these, and the consenting to the oppression of them by our industrialist-capitalist order – these made me feel often that priests were more like Cain than Abel.  ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ they seemed to say in respect to the social order…  There was plenty of charity but too little justice. ‘The worst enemies would be those of our own household,’ Christ had warned us.”

While the use of the word “scandal” to describe the Catholic Church is new and painful for many contemporary Catholics, it was constituent to Dorothy Day’s vocabulary: “I loved the Church for Christ made visible, not for itself, because it was so often a scandal to me,” she said. More than once she applied Jesus’ caution that our enemies are “of our own household” to priests and bishops. She confessed that it was these “enemies,” not the Viet Cong, not even the industrial war profiteers and generals, that she found the hardest to love and to forgive as Jesus bade her.

In a 1967 column entitled “In Peace Is My Bitterness Most Bitter” Dorothy wrote about Cardinal Spellman and his support for the war in Vietnam: “But what words are those he spoke — going against even the Pope, calling for victory, total victory? Words are as strong and powerful as bombs, as napalm.” “I can sit in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and wrestle for that peace in the bitterness of my soul, a bitterness which many Catholics throughout the world feel, and I can find many things in Scripture to console me, to change my heart from hatred to love of enemy.”

In 2002, after growing awareness of clerical abuse of children and twenty two years after Dorothy Day’s death, the priest/activist Father John Dear decried the scandal of the Church’s support of the war in Afghanistan: “Last November, nearly all the U.S. Catholic bishops voted to bless and support the bombing and mass murder of the people of Afghanistan. We know that some 4000 civilians were killed during the first two months of that U.S. war. Hundreds of children were killed by the United States, and the Catholic bishops condoned their murder.” John Dear stated what should be obvious: “Talk about child abuse! The Church cannot condemn child abuse by pedophiles and yet bless the government’s murder of children in its wars, if it wants to be consistent and faithful to Christ.”

Many Catholics are now struggling with the question, “how can I remain in this abusive Church?” In her meditation on Cardinal Spellman, Dorothy Day asked “as to the Church, where else shall we go, except to the Bride of Christ, one flesh with Christ? Though she is a harlot at times, she is our Mother.” Dorothy often quoted theologian Romano Guardini, who said “the Church is the Cross on which Christ is always crucified. One cannot separate Christ from his bloody, painful Church. One must live in a state of permanent dissatisfaction with the Church.”

Long time peacemaker and resister, Father Daniel Berrigan once said “I don’t know a more irreligious attitude, one more utterly bankrupt of any human content, than one which permits children to be destroyed.” In a situation like the present, satisfaction with the Church and its institutions is unnatural, sinful, even, and to view the suffering of children without scandal is inhuman. For too long, the Church has abetted the abuse, exploitation and murder of children. I pray that the rising outrage in the Church over the exploitation of children, and the resolve to protect them, will encompass also the children who are victims of war.

Adoption: In Whose Best Interest? Who Are the Winners and the Losers?

Most people know of adoption through the self-selecting lens of someone they know who has adopted, or someone “desperate” to parent through adoption as a last resort. They may also have a family member or friend who was adopted as a child but seldom, if ever, talks about it with them on any deep level.

Others get their impressions of adoption from television, movies, and other media. Scripts of sitcoms (such as Modern Family), crime fighting shows (such as SVU), and musical shows (such as Glee), etc., all have included an adoption theme.  In addition to these fictionalized versions of adoption, celebrity adoptions are very visible from the perspective of the enthusiastic mothers or couples who have adopted. Stars such as Madonna, the couple formerly known as “Brangelina,” and Sandra Bullock have publicly gushed over their newly acquired, prized little ones, garnering glowing, positive PR for their apparent altruism in opening their hearts to an otherwise perceived “unwanted” child. Still others assume that adoptees are fortunate to have been saved from being aborted (no more true of adoptees than anyone else), abused (maybe true of some adopted from state foster care, but not necessarily newborns), or left in orphanages (true for some adopted internationally.)

It is through these false, one-sided views that adoption is glorified as altruistic and romanticized, idealized, and idolized as a “win-win.” But is it?  All who know of adoption from this superficial depiction, or second-hand, are missing the backstory­. Even most people who adopt, who initiate the process to gain a child, experience the loss of the child they hoped to genetically produce.

The Adoptee: Gains, Losses, Trauma, and Harm

It is, in fact, true that adoption moves children from lower to higher (or much higher) socioeconomic status and affords them, in many cases, more material advantages than they might otherwise have. But at what price?

We must begin by recognizing that there is no adoption without loss; thus, for the adoptee, it is not a win-win. Internationally adopted children lose family, heritage, and their native tongue.  Even those adopted domestically lose their kin, their genealogy, and usually their family medical history, with the exception of some truly and fully open adoptions that remain open. But all adoptions—open and closed—begin with the adopted person’s original vital record of his birth “sealed” forever in most states. In some states, adult adoptees are allowed access to these records under certain circumstances, through procedures not required of their non-adopted peers.  (See the American Adoption Congress website for up-to-date adoption birth certificate access laws state-by-state.) Upon the sealing of the true and accurate birth record, states issue a falsified, fictitious birth certificate that lists the adopters as the parents of birth. Same-sex couples’ adopted children are issued birth certificate listing parent #1 and parent #2 instead of mother and father.

Who benefits from this state-committed fraud? Birth records, allegedly, were originally sealed to protect adoptees from the stigma of illegitimacy, which no longer exists. Sealed records are perpetuated for the benefit of two parties: the paying customers in the transaction, who obtain the baby they covet, and those who are paid to locate and procure babies for these customers.

The unpleasant reality of this process is far less warm and fuzzy than commonly imagined. People pay tens of thousands – averaging $40k – for children who are priced as commodities by age, skin color, and health status, in a manner reminiscent of slavery.

Most so-called “open adoptions” are semi-open at best. They are most likely to be identified adoptions wherein the expectant mother meets the prospective adopters. Many such adoptions are transacted with a lack of transparency and honesty and arranged through an intermediary facilitator, without any exchange of ongoing contact information and with no means of enforcement of promises of ongoing contact. Thus, both the child and the family of origin lose out.

Every adopted child gains but also loses.

The events that create the joy of adoption for the new parents also have profound lifelong effects that cause adoptees to feel a sense of abandonment, rejection, and identity confusion. We must be cognizant that every adoption begins with a tragedy for every adoptee. No matter how loving the adoptive family, no matter how soon after the birth the transition occurs, every adoptee experiences the trauma of loss and separation, described by adoptive mother Nancy Newton Verrier in The Primal Wound.

As early as 1943, Dr. F. Clothier wrote in Mental Hygiene:

Every adopted child at some point in his development, has been deprived of this primitive relationship with his mother. This trauma and the severing of the individual from his racial antecedents lie at the core of what is peculiar to the psychology of the adopted child … [who] is called upon to compensate for the wound left by the loss of the biological mother.

Infants and young children experience their world as an environment of relationships that affect virtually all aspects of their development—intellectual, social, emotional, physical, behavioral, and moral. Even fetuses recognize voices, rhythms, and smells from the womb. The prospect of losing her child to adoption is stressful for mothers-to-be and those stressors can have a permanent negative impact on the infant in utero in many ways.

Research from National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (NSCDC) in 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2010 indicates that the stress the infant experiences from losing the gestational caregiver releases abnormal amounts of cortisol and adrenaline, flooding into the amygdala and hippocampus. This changes the brain’s growth pattern, permanently limiting an individual’s capacity to regulate thought, emotions, actions, and learning, for the lifetime of the person. Trauma that is the result from incomplete infant-gestational bonding “can lead to lifelong problems regarding physical and mental health.”

Kinsella and Monk reported the “Impact of Maternal Stress, Depression & Anxiety on Fetal Neurobehavioral Development” in Obstetrics and Gynecology, September 2009:

The prenatal period is a critical time for neurodevelopment and is thus a period of vulnerability during which a range of exposures have been found to exert long-term changes on brain development and behavior with implications for physical and psychiatric health. .   . . Clinical studies link pregnant women’s exposure to a range of traumatic, as well as chronic and common life stressors (i.e., bereavement, daily hassles, and earthquake), to significant alterations in children’s neurodevelopment.

Despite these challenges, most adoptees are perfectly well adjusted, having the resilience to cope with these early traumas.  Still, adoptees, even in the best possible scenario, face a lifelong task of integrating complex issues regarding personal identity and are thus over-represented in mental health facilities “for understandable reasons,” according to Gordon Livingston, MD.  As a result, adoptees are seen in greater numbers in special education classes, private therapy, youth residential facilities, substance abuse programs, and prisons.  Some facilities, such as Three Points Center in Utah, exist solely to treat adoptees with mental health issues.

Four-and-a-half percent of adopted individuals have problems with drug abuse, compared with 2.9 percent of the general population.  At the Wellness Resource Center in Boca Raton, FL, up to one-half of clients in drug treatment are adopted. That percentage, observed anecdotally by multiple mental health care providers, is notable considering that only 2% of the population are adopted.

A Dutch study found that adopted children had 1.52 times the likelihood of meeting criteria for anxiety. About 16 percent of adoptees had anxiety disorders, compared with 11.2 percent of the non-adoptees.  Twice the number (about 8 percent) of adoptees met the criteria for substance abuse or dependence, compared with about 4 percent for non-adoptees.

Another very alarming statistic is that adoptees are four times as likely to attempt suicide as non-adoptees, according to a study in Pediatrics.

2003 Swedish study in Lancet found that international adoptees were more likely than Swedish-born children to attempt and to die from suicide (odds ratio 3.6, 95% CI 2.1-5.9). More recently, adoptees were found to be nearly 4 times as likely to attempt suicide than non-adopted offspring, according to a September 9, 2013, study in Pediatrics, (Keyes, et al.)

Howard, Martin, et al. studied “Early Mother-Child Separation, Parenting, and Child Well-Being in Early Head Start Families” and  found that “early separation has consequences for both children’s aggression and negativity.”

“What if the question were framed differently” asks Michele Sharpe.  “Why are outcomes for children adopted into stranger families worse than for children who grow up with their own people? In that case, we might be inspired to answer the question: ’Because they are being raised by strangers’!”

If we listen to adoptees, we can learn ways to ameliorate the pain suffered by adoptees.  The losses they suffer have no rituals and go unrecognized and ignored.  Instead they are told they are “lucky” and expected to feel grateful.

The Mothers and Fathers

The only view the public sees of mothers who surrender children for adoption is via reality-type television programming about teen moms. These scenarios feed the false belief that all mothers willingly give away their babies and that doing so is in their best interest, as it is for their child. The reality is that for any mother—from anywhere in the world, and no matter how willingly—it is a lifelong loss. (See “Universality of the Grief Experienced by Mothers Who Lose Children to Adoption”).

While for the child adoption may be a loss and a gain, for many families of origin it is simply a loss. They gain nothing in return.

Mothers and fathers in impoverished parts of the world are often duped with promises that their children will go to another country to be educated and then return.  Having a child “rescued” by adoption leaves these families as destitute as they were before.  Many have no idea what they are signing, can’t read, or never sign anything. Others have their children stolen by baby traffickers.

Take, for example, Madonna. According to the pop star, she rescued a very ill child who might otherwise have perished of malaria and tuberculosis.   Madonna claimed that she was told the boy was abandoned, but the child’s father, Yohane Banda, who brought his son to the orphanage because he was unable to care for the sick days-old infant after the child’s mother died, claims that “I always imagined that when he was better, or I had got another wife, I would go and take him back. I did not think anyone would want to take him away.” Banda visited his son regularly, cycling the twenty-five miles to the orphanage to “bring him food from my garden, then sit and play with him for a while. I wanted him to know that I was his father, that I love him very much.”  In addition, the boy’s uncle and other family members protested David being taken out of the country by a “rich white donor,” noting that “other parents at the mission who have had their children adopted [are] still living in their poverty.“

Angelina Jolie was reportedly shocked to hear that her adopted son Maddox might not have been an orphan whose mother had died, but rather may have been sold by his birth mother in a desperate attempt to escape a poverty-stricken life. Lauryn Galindo, who helped Jolie adopt from Cambodia, pleaded guilty to visa fraud and money laundering as part of a ring that paid poor Cambodian women as little as $100 or less for their children. The agency that handled hundreds of such adoptions charged fees of $10,000. Additionally, the FBI closed down Seattle International Adoptions Inc., the agency used by Jolie to adopt Maddox, after former owner Lynn Devin pleaded guilty to false claims that some children the agency handled were orphans.

While prospective adopters and adoption profiteers moan the decrease in international adoptions (IA), it is a result of such corrupt practices that (IA) has been stopped from countries such as Guatemala, Ethiopia, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, and Ghana, reducing IA numbers drastically in recent years.  (See the State Department website for current information on which countries now allow out-of-country adoption and the requirements.) Russian adoptions were closed as a result of abuse and abandonment (sometimes fatal) of Russian children adopted by Americans.

Taking children from their culture, without concern for their families’ needs —not just by the rich and famous – continues to be a common practice..

Madonna created Raising Malawi, a charity that supports orphans and vulnerable children of Malawi through health, education, and community support. Others who are less able to create such a foundation can donate to many existing charities, such as Save the Children and UNICEF. Why pay tens of thousands to “save” just one child, when the same funds could be used to help entire communities build schools or obtain medical supplies? That is altruism.

Domestically, mothers-to-be face tremendous pressures as a result of demand outpacing the supply. From the late 1940s, starting after WWII, until the late 60s – early 70s, being pregnant and single was stigmatized. This historical period has been dubbed the Baby Scoop Era because of large numbers of babies placed for adoption to spare their mothers, and the “unwed” mothers’ families, the “shame” of their “sin” of non-marital sex.

Pregnant single women were shuffled off to maternity homes, hidden away in secrecy. The steady flow of expectant mothers with no alternatives created a steady supply of babies. Books such as Rickie Solinger’s Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade, Ann Fessler’s The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade, and The Baby Scoop Era: Unwed Mothers, Infant Adoption and Forced Surrender by Karen Buterbaugh document the phenomenon and the plight of women victimized by society’s scorn.

Then in the 1970s came greater accessibility to birth control and acceptance of single motherhood, with students continuing to attend school while pregnant. This, of course, put a huge dent in the supply of babies available for adoption; at the same time, feminism also encouraged delaying childbirth while pursuing education and career, which in turn led to an increase in infertility issues. Add to that a reduction in international adoption, and marriage equality for same-sex couples – who could now also compete for the dwindling number of newborns being placed for adoption – and you have a higher degree of pressure, manipulation, and coercion of mothers-to-be who consider adoption than ever before. This dark, exploitive side of adoption is hidden from public view.

Mothers are led to believe that they are in control of the process by choosing prospective adopters from photo profiles and meeting their top choices.  However, these vulnerable, pregnant women are then “matched” with those who seek to adopt their baby. The moms-to be are encouraged to accept their “expenses” to be paid by the prospective adopters, despite the fact that most expectant moms would be entitled to housing and medical costs from the government. These payments and the constant contact during the pregnancy are done to create an incomprehensible obligation and pressure to go through with the adoption even if they are having second thoughts or have changed their minds. The mothers are not provided independent legal counsel and are often duped into “open” adoptions that slam closed once the papers are signed.  Mothers who attempt to reverse consents to adopt that were obtained fraudulently or through coercion are often silenced with gag orders. Fathers have even less voice in the placement of their children for adoption.

Lessening the Loss of a Perceived “Win-Win”

Current adoption practices serve only one client, the adopting family. The child—in whose best interest adoption purports to be—has been reduced to a desired product in a consumer, market-driven world, commodifying the child whose rights need to be protected.  The mothers of these children are too often reduced to the discarded wrap in which the gift came, exploited for the same adult-centered goals.  The intended parents should not be the client; the child should be. His or her rights should be paramount, prevailing over the needs, wants, desires, or desperation of all others.

When we lift the curtain, remove the rose-colored glasses, and see the demand-driven market aspect of adoption and the lifelong harm it causes, society needs to do everything in its power to reduce the number of family separations. Instead of encouraging and promoting adoption via tax credits and other incentives, we need to put in place resources to protect children, mothers and families in crisis.

Clearly there will always be orphaned and endangered children with no family members to care for them safely, but in order for adoption to be in a child’s best interest, every child deserves a thorough search for stable and able kin who would want them before stranger adoption is considered.

In order for alternative care to be in the best interest of the child, such care must stop requiring the unnecessary eradication of the adopted person’s original identity and replacing it with an “as if born to” pretense, protected by the fraudulent issuance of fictional birth certificates.  Hiding a person’s true, original identity from them is not in any adopted person’s best interest, but rather the interests of those who profit from their losses. These gaslighting, secretive practices need to be replaced with a form of legal guardianship that gives the new parents all rights in terms of health and education of the child in their care while respecting, honoring, and maintaining the child’s identity and kinship connections.  Only then will adoption be in the best interest of the children it purports to protect and serve.

Ambushing Pope Francis: The Accusations of Cardinal Viganò

Now that the corruption has reached the very top of the Church’s hierarchy, my conscience dictates that I reveal those truths.
— Cardinal Carlo Maria Viganò, August 25, 2018

It could be called the apology drive, a journey of institutional contrition.  Pope Francis’ Ireland trip has seeped with remarks of forgiveness, seeking understanding from those who found themselves victims of child abuse within the Catholic Church.  “We apologise,” he told a church service attended by some hundred thousand at Dublin’s Phoenix Park, “for some members of the hierarchy who did not take care of these painful situations and kept silent.” He “wished to put these crimes before the mercy of the Lord and ask forgiveness for them.”

The Vatican, however, is sibilant with the calls of vipers, and the efforts being made within the organisation to out and implicate Pope Francis as a hypocrite in the business of targeting child abuse found form in Saturday’s note of condemnation by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.  Viganò had cut his teeth as the Vatican’s ambassador to Washington, and has never warmed to Francis, an official he accused of nursing a “pro-gay ideology” receptive to homosexual clerics.

On Saturday, the National Catholic Register, amongst other sites, ran news of testimony purportedly written by the aggrieved Cardinal.  The flashpoint here was the case of former Cardinal and retired archbishop of Washington, D.C. Theodore McCarrick, who now stands as a gruesome personification of institutional climbing and abuse in authority.

In his strident note, Viganò alleges that the Vatican was made privy to sexual misconduct allegations of the then Archbishop McCarrick sometime back in 2000.  Memoranda demanding action on conduct towards minors and seminarians were ignored; actions were delayed by Secretaries of State Cardinals Angelo Sodano and Tarcisio Bertone.

This is where Viganò places himself in the picture of concern and worry, claiming that he had been the emissary responsible for passing on the material to the Vatican, not to mention his own insistence that McCarrick be removed from the ministry.  The unmistakable point he wishes to leave us is that of a thoughtful official who was ahead of the game. A cynical reading of this could be that some hand washing is taking place.

Consider the observation about efforts to keep the matter of abuse an internal affair, rather than charging off to the fourth estate to spill the beans. “I had always believed and hoped that the hierarchy of the Church would find within itself the spiritual resources and strength to tell the whole truth, to amend and to renew itself.  That is why, even though I had repeatedly been asked to do so, I always avoided making statements to the media, even when it would have been my right to do so, in order to defend myself against the calumnies published about me, even by high-ranking prelates of the Roman Curia.”

A decade later, Pope Benedict XVI sanctioned the cardinal, leading Viganò to claim that the previous Pope had “imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis”.  Church punishments, it would seem, can be recyclable.

The note, in a sense, seems to be an effort to outdo the Pope, a call to bring in, not merely brooms but a whole set of cleansing apparatuses.  “To restore beauty of holiness to the face of the Bride of Christ, which is terribly disfigured by so many abominable crimes, and if we truly want to free the Church from the fetid swamp into which she has fallen, we must have the courage to tear down the culture of secrecy and publicly confess the truth we have kept hidden.”

It is also an effort to catch Francis out, a bureaucrat’s trick to identify inaction and faulty paperwork.  “He knew from at least June 23, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator”.  Despite such knowledge, “he covered for him to the bitter end” permitting him to become nothing less than a “kingmaker for appointments in the Curia and the United States, and the most listened to advisor in the Vatican for relations with the Obama administration.”  Only when “forced by the report of abuse of a minor, again on the basis of media attention” did Francis take “action [regarding McCarrick] to save his image in the media.”

The Pope has been reticent and mild-mannered about the whole thing, though one senses that any effort to combat such remarks would be equivalent to taking a mop to sea.  “I read the statement this morning. I read it and I will say sincerely that I must say this, to you [the reporter] and all of you who are interested: read the document carefully and judge for yourselves.”

Viganò’s accusations are typical of a corporate conspiracy where the corrupt expose the corrupt, and the guilty attempt catharsis.  While critical of the Pope’s own methods, he was very happy to quash an inquiry into claims made against Archbishop John Nienstedt, former head of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul, that he mishandled claims of sexual abuse.  Nienstedt’s redeeming feature was his ardent advocacy against same-sex marriage.

No one is spared in the accusatory rounds (other than those he is sympathetic to and remain, therefore, unmentioned); there are no angels in the pestilential filth, and anyone in power and positions of accountability are marked by the scathing remarks of Viganò.  Acknowledge your mistakes, he demands of Francis, and abandon all hope for a proper reckoning in office; “set a good example to cardinals and bishops who covered by McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with them.”

Viganò has appropriated the very weapons he accuses Francis of using, but the Pope remains the institution amongst the faithful as much as the man.  Behind the scenes, the factions continue to plot and sharpen what tools they have available.  The call for “transparency and truth” delivered by the “good shepherds” one can trust is all well and good, but it is hard to avoid the conclusion that officials in Viganò’s shoes are simply preparing for a change of man rather than a change of attitude.

Cultures of Death: Pope Francis, Apology and Child Abuse

It was long overdue, but Pope Francis’s letter of condemnation and apology regarding the abuse of children by Catholic priests did sent a few ripples of comfort and reckoning.  He conceded that the Church “showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them”.  He acknowledged the “heart-wrenching pain” of the victims who had been assaulted by the clerical class, and the cries “long ignored, kept quiet or silenced”.

“With shame and repentance,” went the Pope’s grave words, “we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.”

What is left hanging in the air is any system of defined accountability, one characterised by an ancient institution mothballed by secrecy and obfuscation.  In the pointed words of Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins, “Statements from the Vatican or Pope should stop telling us how terrible abuse is, and how all must be held accountable.”

The Pope had been given a prompting this month, a nasty reminder he acknowledged in his note.  “Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of the many of the victims.”  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had made a near 900 page grand jury report investigating clerical sex abuse of minors public, a digging enterprise spearheaded by the Pennsylvania state Attorney General Josh Shapiro.  The grizzly bounty came to 301 accused priests, with some 1,000 victims throughout the state, and even then, it only covered six of the eight dioceses in the state.

The details read like chillingly lurid pornography: a priest in the Diocese of Erie who “fondled boys and told them he was giving them a ‘cancer check’”; a priest in the Diocese of Allentown who impregnated a 17-year-old and “forged another pastor’s signature on a marriage certificate”.  What also accompanied such acts of molestation was the divine remit: victims were assured that their sexual provision was part of a broader Godly purpose.

The exploits of some of the accused resemble catalogues of brutal overachievement.  Rev. Edward R. Graff, who served in the diocese of Allentown for 35 years, could add scores of victims to his repertoire. Much of his conduct was executed on the premise that he was “an instrument of god”.

After the abuse comes the vast apparatus, the doctrinally directed cover-ups that warn of continuing offending behaviour while still keeping matters bolted and in-house.  The report notes the point.  “What we can say, though, despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability.  Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all.  For decades.”  Within the church itself, church officials received protection and succour. “Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted.”

Matters have been particularly heady in the field of child abuse accusation this US summer.  Cardinal Theodore McCarrick resigned his cardinalship after accusations of abuse from adult seminarians and children.  On the other side of the planet, one of the Vatican’s highest ranking officials, Australia’s Cardinal George Pell, is busy battling charges of historical sex abuse.

Resistance to prodding from the secular world remains trenchant in some branches of the Church. In Australia, despite the passage of legislation breaching the sacred seal of the confession, priests have openly stated that they would sooner go to prison than reveal the contents of a penitent’s confession, even if it discloses instances of child abuse.  Church business remains resistant, defiantly so.

To that end, the shaking measures of legal action may be one of few mechanisms to ensure accountability.  Criminal prosecutions have tended to rarely succeed; issues of evidence and the passage of time often condemn them.  Civil lawsuits, as Timothy D. Lytton of Georgia State University argues, might have more prospects of success.  This, however, will face bars imposed by the statute of limitations. “Unless lawmakers across the country pass reforms to extend or suspend the statute of limitations in their states, I believe that the church will never provide a full accounting of the scandal.”

The language of Pope Francis can be misconstrued as healing and resolving.  It does neither.  The Church sprawls and continues to exist with its own rationales, its basis of functioning. It was the world’s first operational corporation, its crimes and infractions as much to do with that logic than anything else.  Until its approach to the powerful clerical class is reformed, the abuses will continue in the shadow of misused divinity.

U.S. Is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen

On August 9, a U.S.-supported Saudi airstrike bombed a bus carrying schoolchildren in Sa’ada, a city in northern Yemen. The New York Times reported that the students were on a recreational trip. According to the Sa’ada health department, the attack killed at least forty-three people.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, at least twenty-nine of those killed were children under the age of fifteen, and forty-eight people were wounded, including thirty children.

CNN aired horrifying, heartbreaking footage of children who survived the attack being treated in an emergency room. One of the children, carrying his UNICEF issued blue backpack, is covered with blood and badly burned.

Commenting on the tragedy, CNN’s senior correspondent Nima Elbagir emphasized that she had seen unaired video which was even worse than what the CNN segment showed. She then noted that conditions could worsen because Yemen’s vital port of Hodeidah, the only port currently functioning in Yemen, has been under attack for weeks of protracted Saudi coalition-led airstrikes. Ms. Elbagir described the port of Hodeidah as “the only lifeline to bring in supplies to Yemen.”

“This conflict is backed by the U.S. and the U.K.,” Elbagir said, concluding her report with, “They are in full support of the Saudi-led activities in Yemen today.”

U.S. companies such as Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin have sold billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries in the Saudi-Emirati-led coalition which is attacking Yemen.

The U.S. military refuels Saudi and Emirati warplanes through midair exercises. And, the United States helps the Saudi coalition warmakers choose their targets.

Isa Blumi, an associate professor at Stockholm University and author of the book Destroying Yemen, has said the United States is “front and center responsible” for the Saudi coalition attacks.

Looking for a helpful way to describe U.S. support for the Saudi-Emirati operation in Yemen, journalist Samuel Oakford recently offered this comparison: “If an airstrike was a drive-by and killed someone, the U.S. provided the car, the wheels, the servicing and repair, the gun, the bullets, help with maintenance of those—and the gas.”

The August 9 attack against children and other civilians follows a tragic and sordid list of Saudi-Emirati attacks causing carnage and extreme affliction in Yemen. On June 12, Doctors Without Borders reported an airstrike which destroyed its newly constructed facility for treatment of cholera, in the town of Abs, built in anticipation of a third epidemic outbreak of cholera in Yemen.

Scores of people were killed and wounded in an August 3 attack near the entrance to the port of Hodeidah’s Al Thawra hospital. Analysts examining the munitions used in the attack believe the killing and destruction was caused when United Arab Emirates forces situated near the Hodeidah airport fired mortars into the area.

Why have the Saudis and Emiratis led a coalition attacking Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab peninsula, since March of 2015?

Professor Isa Blumi believes the goal is to bludgeon Yemenis into complete submission and exert control over  “a gold mine” of resources, including oil reserves, natural gas, minerals, and a strategic location. Blumi notes that the war against Yemen costs the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 200 million dollars per day, yet Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who commented that a prolonged war is in the interests of Saudi Arabia, seems to believe the cost is worth it, considering potential future gains.

Business profits seem to also motivate U.S. weapon companies that continue benefiting from weapon sales to the Saudi-Emirati led coalition.

The United States is deeply implicated in the appalling carnage in Yemen. It is our responsibility as citizens to do what we can to demand an end to this complicity.

• This article first appeared on the website of The Progressive magazine

Adoption Loss

Adoption loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful.

— The Reverend Keith C. Griffith, MBE

Every adoption is built on a foundation of tragedy and loss. This is why the TLC television show featuring family reunification “stories of people who have, for one reason or another, experienced long-term separation from members of their family is entitled Long Lost Family [emphasis added].

Universality of the Grief experienced by mothers who lose children to adoption

Yet recently, someone took umbrage at my stating the fact – my truth – that I lost my child to adoption. “Lost?” asked the man with incredulous shock, somehow offended at my description of my experience.  Maybe he was surprised because loss of a loved one is equated with death. Probably that combined with the prevailing fairy-tale, romanticized image of adoption as a win-win; a sum zero in which there are no losers. Women who are incapable of caring safely for a child, or simply don’t want to be mothers “chose to place” their babies for adoption to be cared for by desperately waiting persons or couples and they all live happily ever after. Powerful mythology tells us it is brave and it is loving. This is the image of adoption our culture has created and the public embraces tightly with certainty.

Yet this powerful perception is smoke and mirrors. It is a construct to keep a thriving mega-billion-dollar industry – and those whose livelihoods depend upon it –  flourishing. The truth behind the curtain is that adoption is not a win for everyone involved in the process.  Never has been. Adoption is NOT a win-win, but involves loss for all parties.

Adoptive Parents

Some who adopt do so because since childhood they totally bought into this myth and they felt a life-long commitment to help the mythological “languishing” orphans.

The vast majority adopters, however, (excluding step-parent adoptions) have lost their fertility, their ability to carry a pregnancy to term, or are unable to have a child of their own with their partner or spouse. They’ve lost the dream – often a lifelong dream – of having a family and a child of their own. Many have lost the dream of experiencing pregnancy, childbirth and seeing an offspring who might look like them or have familial and familiar traits. This is a grievous loss and one that cannot be underestimated or taken lightly. It is the loss of hopes and dreams. It is shattering for those who experience it. It often drives people to endure years of painful and very expensive infertility treatments and assisted reproduction solutions, leaving them heartbroken in the end.

Some who chose adoption – as a last resort – experience a let-down after adopting that they liken to postpartum depression, though the causes are very different. Many are trying to bond having not had sufficient time or counseling to properly mourn their loss. Some adoptive parents admit that the longing and wondering what their own child might have been like lingers long after they have opened their hearts to a “replacement,” substitute child.

Mothers who lose children to adoption

Universality of the Grief experienced by mothers who lose children to adoption

For the mother who bears the child there is nothing but loss.  My loss was half a century ago. 1968. My daughter was born in the Summer of Love. July 1967 and also during what some call the Baby Scoop Era (from the end of WWII to Roe v. Wade) because of the high number of babies lost to mothers who were deemed “too young” or simply “unwed” – judged immoral for the sin of fornication. For some the “cure” was a shotgun wedding.  For many it meant banishment to a Home for Unwed Mothers and the ultimate punishment – permanent loss of your child into an abyss of the unknown and a lifetime of worry, wondering if your child was dead or alive, well taken care of or lost in the foster care system. After carrying a child for nine months, laboring and birthing and being left with empty arms, what else could possibly describe that but loss?  In 1980, I was one of five such mothers in New Jersey who co-founded the original Origins, subtitled: An organization for mother who lost children to adoption.” Childless mothers.

Much has changed over the decades and much has not.  Birth control is more readily available, drastically reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and abortion is an option, currently, in most of the country. The stigma of being an “unwed mother” has all but disappeared except in some ultra-religious communities. Single parenthood is far more accepted and even applauded under the right circumstances – meaning if one is wealthy enough (think Sandra Bullock).  And even those less financially secure can still continue to attend school while pregnant today, as they could not previously.

The shame that drove everything about adoption underground and secretive and forced so many young mothers to lose their children, is for the most part in the past. No longer are mothers having to hide their “sin” as described so graphically in The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler.

Today we have MTV reality shows following young expectant moms as they make their decision to become mothers or make the very difficult, painful but loving choice to allow others to parent their child. Today most mothers in that situation can opt for “open adoption” which purports to spare them the torturous pain of not knowing the well-being of their child. Some open adoptions last. Some such arrangements are satisfying for both sets of parents. Others fail or were merely a false promise from the get-go, a pretense to pry a baby from a mother.

Universality of the Grief experienced by mothers who lose children to adoption

Many young, naïve mothers-to-be believe that by choosing an open adoption they are entering into a binding contract that will make them akin to a non-custodial parent in a divorce when nothing could be further from the truth.  No open adoption contact agreement is enforceable and cannot be because every adoption, including open adoption, begins with the mother and father relinquishing ALL their parental rights, rendering them legal strangers to their child. All rights then reside with the adopting parents – the only legal parents –  who can choose to allow contact or not. Relinquishing parents, because they have no independent legal counsel, are often unaware of this and all too often enter into agreements that are not at all what they imagine it to be. Most have become enmeshed with prospective adopters throughout their pregnancies and feel a tremendous sense of obligation and indebtedness to them for the “kindness” and support – both emotional and financial. They believe these people who have “been there” for them when boyfriends or family have abandoned them, are their true friends.

Far too many are left out in the cold, feeling nothing but emptiness, loss and betrayal when promises are unkept.

No matter what type of adoption occurs –  open or closed – the mother has experienced a grievous loss she will never forget. Mothers in adoption that remain open often feel pain seeing their child calling someone else Mommy, no matter how well-prepared they thought they were. The child that grew inside them is someone else’s. Someone else gets to marvel at all their milestones and gets the kisses and hugs. Even if they are recognized as the “mother” – someone else is Mom. And even if that is what they wanted for their child, it is bitter sweet and a loss of what might have been, could have been.

Unlike other maternal losses – miscarriage, stillborn, loss of custody in divorce, death of a child – a loss to adoption is not socially accepted and there are no customs or rituals to mark the loss – no funeral, no grave. In fact, it is the only loss encouraged by society and funded by federal tax dollars.

Because there is no finality, no closure, it has been identified as a limbo or ambiguous loss akin to mothers of soldiers lost in action as per Pauline Boss, author of Ambiguous Loss: Learning to live with Unresolved Grief. For more on the never-ending loss of adoption for mothers, see “Universality of Grief experienced by mothers who lose children to adoption.”

The loss of a child is not forgotten nor healed over time, but, in fact, is reported to worsen.

“Time since relinquishment, age of the respondent, education level, and income had a significant inverse relationship with birth mothers’ satisfaction to place their child for adoption.”1

Evelyn Robinson writes about “Long term outcomes of losing a child through adoption: the impact of disenfranchised grief.”

The Adoptee

The adopted child likewise experiences profound loss. The loss of the life he might have had, the loss of genetic connection to the family in which she is raised.  In very real tangible way they lose their original identity, many adopted transnationally lose their heritage, culture and native tongue. They lose access to their original birth certificate, aka a vital record at least until adulthood and for some, depending on the country and state they were born in, forever. And most significantly, they lose their family medical history.

Some adoptees have likened their life to a puzzle with pieces missing. Others to a book missing its first chapter. Many feel a sense of injustice for the denial of their truth, including their grief.

Kathryn Patricelli, MA, writes Long-Term Issues for The Adopted Child:

Children may feel grief over the loss of a relationship with their birthparents and the loss of the cultural and family connections that would have existed with those parents.

This feeling of loss may be especially intense in closed or semi-open adoptions where little or no information or contact is available with birthparents. Such grief feelings may be triggered at many different times throughout the child’s life including when they first learn of their adoption, during the turbulent teen years, upon the death of other family members, or even as when becoming a spouse or parent.

Some who are adopted experience an initial separation and one or more subsequent separations and losses before – and even after – being adopted, but even  one of these can have a profound emotional toll.

“Neglect, abuse, violence and trauma endured early in life can ripple directly into a child’s molecular structure and distort their DNA, according to a new study this week from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“The genetic changes leave them biologically more vulnerable in later life to psychiatric afflictions like depression, anxiety, mood disorders and high-risk behavior like drug abuse, the researchers found.”  Childhood trauma leaves scars that are genetic, not just emotional, study affirms.

Every separation from primary caregivers is a traumatic loss, no matter when it occurs – even at birth. For newborns, accustomed to the smells, sounds and motions of the mother in whose wombs they grow, it is called a primal wound.

Adoptees are burdened not only with ignoring their losses, in most cases, but dealing with society’s expectations of gratitude. They are imposed with feeling grateful they were not aborted when their chances are no greater than anyone else’s. They are told they are lucky not to have lived a life of assumed abject poverty or abuse or neglect had they not been adopted.

Imagine losing a spouse and being told: “But look how fortunate you are that you have your children” without any expression of sympathy. This is what adoptees deal with day in and day out. Sharon Pine writes, “Please Don’t Tell Me I was Lucky to be Adopted”:

For me, being an adoptee is like getting into a horrible car accident and surviving with devastating injuries. But instead of anybody acknowledging the trauma of the accident, they tell you that you should feel lucky. Even if the injuries never stop hurting, never quite heal. Even if the injuries make it impossible to feel comfortable in everyday life. . .

Adoptees are often so busy trying to prove that we’re fine, that it’s too late when we realize we’re not.

Elle Cuardaigh expresses her frustration and writes of her anguish of coping with society’s expectations for her regarding her adoption experience. In Dear Adoption, Do Not Tell Me How I Feel Cuardaigh speaks for many adoptees when she says:

When I say I feel I don’t belong anywhere, you say I feel lucky to be adopted. When I say I consider myself a commodity, you say I actually feel like a gift. When I say I long to connect with my birth family, you say “those people” mean nothing to me. When I say I miss my original mother, you say I have abandonment issues. When I say I mourn my bio-father, you say I cannot grieve someone I never met. When I say I carry great pain, you say you wish you were adopted.

Lost Daughters  is a collaborative writing project founded in 2011 authored exclusively by adult women who were adopted as children.  “Our name was chosen in the spirit of BJ Lifton’s concept of one’s Self becoming “lost” and “found” throughout the journey of being adopted.” One such contributor writes:

I think for many adoptees we have grown weary of being told how to feel.  Adoption has been painted as a win-win for all parties and a wonderful way to create families for so long the under belly of adoption not been revealed. . .

Loss is loss. You don’t tell someone who lost a leg to be thankful for their prosthetic, or tell someone who has lost one kidney to be glad still have one left, or someone who lost a child that they have others to be thankful for.  Even IF there is some reason to be thankful for that it doesn’t diminish the initial trauma and loss.  Loss, is loss, is loss, is loss and will always BE loss.  Some losses are greater than others certainly.  We can measure and compare them, but they are all still loss. Yes, what we do with it makes the difference but that will never erase the initial loss.

Diminishing initial loss for adoptees can further undermine their feelings and emotions leading them to question even more who and what they are. … If adoptees are shamed into believing some of the most basic and primal parts of themselves are wrong then they begin to trust in others rather than themselves.

Psychologist and author David Kushner writes:

Abandonment and loss are core issues in adoption. Loss of the birth mother is a primal wound, says adoptive mother/author Nancy Verrier (1993), likely no less profound than loss of significant relationships through death, separation or divorce. In adoption, however, there is also a loss of origins, loss of identity and loss of a completed sense of self. All members of the adoption triad experience profound loss. Birth parents lose their children, adoptive parents lose their dream of a child they wanted to conceive, and adoptees lose their birth families. Unlike other situations of traumatic loss, the adoptee’s need to grieve is too often not validated by society, or understood by the adoptive family.”2

Nancy Adams, an International adoptee recently summed it up on Facebook:

In the adoption process, there are two parties with power and two parties without power. The agency or attorney and the adoptee parents have the power and gain the money and the child. The birth parent and child do not have any power. Whether the decision was forced, surrendered or relinquished, given up….both the powerless parties feel an incredible loss on so many levels. That is a fact that can’t be denied, even with the best adoptee parents, issues of trust, loss, abandonment, grief of questions unanswered will always be there for both the adoptee and original mother. I don’t think this is a debate on positive or negative adoptions. This is speaking to the underlying life-long effects of losing, surrendering, being forced, relinquishing a child no matter what the reason. These psychological and emotional effects do not go away. I have huge amounts of adoptee friends and in that group,  [even among] those who have found their birth families.

The life long search for self is real, the life-long grieving on both parties is real even if the child got a “better life or family or opportunities”…the psychological/emotional struggles are real.

Adoption loss is real. It cannot and should not be denied. We need to leave the win-win myth where it belongs: with other childhood fairy tales, Santa Claus, Easter bunnies and unicorns, and face the realities of loss and grief that is a very real part of every adoption. The profound loss for all of the parties to adoption is a reality that needs to be recognized within adoptive families, by society, and in our legal system.

  1. The Relationship Between Time and Birth Mother Satisfaction with Relinquishment, Madden et al.,  April 30, 2018.
  2. Sometimes a Fatal Quest… Losses in Adoption“, David Kirshner, June 21, 2008.