Unlearning Adoption: A Guide to Family Preservation and Protection

New Jersey resident Jessica DelBalzo looks like an average, 20-something mom, but for the past ten years, she has been active in a small but growing radical movement to eradicate adoption. Her new book, Unlearning Adoption: A Guide to Family Preservation and Protection, released this week, offers a controversial look at what she terms, “the sinister side” of American adoption. 

DelBalzo’s book details legal and ethical issues involving adoptions of the past and present, as well as psychological consequences faced by adopted people and surrendering parents. In addition to critiquing domestic infant adoption and international adoption, Unlearning... presents the sets of problems that are unique to foster care and modern legalized abandonment laws. Overarching themes throughout the book include advice for individuals and professionals working with adoption affected people, ways to prevent adoption, and alternatives for children who require substitute care. 

DelBalzo who is neither an adoptee nor a surrendering parent, says that she came to her anti-adoption perspective “from a completely neutral place.” She explains that she began researching adoption as a student and learned of “the atrocities committed against marginalized families” at home and abroad. 

The author founded Adoption: Legalized Lies, an anti-adoption organization which assists families in keeping their children, in July of 1998. DelBalzo reports that divulging her anti-adoption status has frequently landed her in hot water with people who are uninformed about the movement. “There are so many misunderstandings about who we are and what we believe,” she says. “Unlearning Adoption was written as a guide for the average person, dispelling the myths and offering up real alternatives for families in need.”

cover of Unlearning Adoption:  A Guide to Family Preservation and ProtectionUnlearning Adoption: A Guide to Family Preservation and Protection

author: Jessica DelBalzo
asin: 1419672061
binding: Paperback
list price: $12.99 USD
amazon price: $12.99 USD


New Jersey Woman Devotes Life to Natural Families

"Everyone benefits from adoption." We've all heard that message from the adoption industry so often we think it must be true. Adoptees smiling and happy, natural moms so grateful someone has taken their child for them. And of course the people adopting are all completely satisfied. It seems so fantastic, it's a wonder no one ever considers whether this is the true picture or just advertising.

Flemington, NJ (PRWEB) May 27, 2004 -- With her long braids, Ms. Jessica DelBalzo looks more like a farm girl than an anti-adoption activist. DelBalzo was a student at Bridgewater-Raritan high school in Bridgewater, New Jersey when she first started researching adoption. "In American Law class, we used to have a lot of debates, and one came up about abortion. Quite a few of the other students kept saying how adoption was so much better and something just clicked with me that made me question everything I thought I knew about adoption. That's when I started researching it, talking with and emailing natural parents and adoptees, and getting past the rhetoric to see what was really going on."

What DelBalzo learned about adoption in the years since the discussion in her high school class led her to found the non-profit organization that goes by the controversial, in-your-face name "Adoption: Legalized Lies" in July of 1998. The organization, registered at the state level as non-profit, is now in the process of getting 501c3 status from the federal government. It provides support for those separated by adoption, promotes awareness of the risks inherent in adoption, and provides a hotline and support to natural families to help them keep their children.

DelBalzo observes: "Anti-choice advocates frequently present adoption as an alternative to abortion. What they don't realize is that a large number of women, having lost one child to adoption, opt to abort subsequent unplanned pregnancies because the thought of losing another child is unbearable. Adopted women often choose abortion as well, when they find themselves pregnant unexpectedly. They don't want another child to suffer through the feelings of loss and abandonment they experiences as an adoptee. Even if she once considered abortion, a woman who gives birth has bonded to her baby. It's cruel to pressure a mother to give up her own son or daughter. People are being led to believe they will get over it and just go on with their lives. It is not something people just get over. Even newborns recognize their own mothers and fathers, and being taken away is a traumatic event that stays with them forever."

Adoption: Legalized Lies provides an email list for members which combines support and activism. DelBalzo explains: "In addition to receiving support and feedback from people who really understand what they've been through, our members also feel that taking action to prevent adoption from occurring in the future is one very good way to recover from their own losses."

The Adoption: Legalized Lies (A.L.L.) website provides information about the risks inherent in adoption and provides a hotline and support for families who wish to keep their children and grandchildren.

Much of the effort of A.L.L. members involves writing for magazines, newspapers and other media outlets to educate the public about the negative effect adoption has on children and their families.

In addition the organization has sponsored art displays in three cities, Spokane, WA; Bernardsville, NJ; and Flemington, NJ, to raise awareness about the traumatic impact adoption has on adopted people and natural parents.

When asked about the name, Jess said the group ended up selecting 'Adoption: Legalized Lies' because it is honest and straight-forward. "What is dishonest about adoption is the legal lie that adopters become parents just because they've gone through the adoption process. In truth families are created by nature and cannot just be replaced by even the most loving legal guardians. It's harmful to children to deny their true families."

In keeping with it's in-your-face attitude, the organization recently published a book called "Stolen Choices, Stolen Children". The book contains essays, articles and colorful artwork by mothers, adoptees and activists who believe that the way adoption is practiced in America prevents it from being a true choice for expectant parents.

Asked why no one knows about the realities of adoption, DelBalzo said: "Adoption has managed to maintain 'sacred cow' status in America, but adoption is not a benevolent institution. In reality it is a $1.5 billion industry. Like any other business, it must maintain a steady flow of its 'product' to its customers and maintain a customer base and overall image through advertising."

"People think it is saving them tax dollars, but when you look at the whole picture and how much the adopters are getting in training, monthly payments, medical expenses and counseling over and above what a natural family would get and when you look at other factors like adoption bonuses it seems very unlikely. In addition, when you consider how frequently those who are separated from their families end up in extreme forms of counseling or in jail, it seems that this is creating a social problem rather than alleviating one. After all, the best situation for the child is not considered in most cases. Adopters who have the money are 'purchasing' the child of their specifications. If there are attachment problems, the adopters can go back and negotiate more government benefits."

"Many adoptees do find ways to cope, but why give them an extra hurdle to overcome? Children are more likely to be abused by strangers than by their own family. Many of the older child adoptions result in the child being returned to foster care or emancipated before age 18. When you consider all the factors, helping the family just makes more sense."

Today, 24-year-old DelBalzo has a BA in Political Science with a minor in Psychology from Rutgers University. She has a 19 month old daughter Rylie with partner Mike Kukal, who, along with the rest of her family is supportive of her efforts to promote natural family preservation.

The original group of twelve members has grown to include 230 adoptees, natural mothers and grandmothers and anti-adoption activists.

Asked what the best thing about her work is, DelBalzo replied: "Helping people keep their children. We help them understand that they have a right to keep their child and if they need it we will find them baby supplies, housing resources, and other necessities. We explain how adoption will affect siblings and other family members, even those not yet born. Recently we heard back from one pregnant mother who emailed to say: 'We are sitting here crying. Thank you for your help.' She later let us know that she had a boy and both were doing fine. That always makes me feel very, very good."

Ms. Jessica DelBalzo
Adoption: Legalized Lies, Inc.
4 Tower Road
Martinsville, NJ 08836
Hotline: 1-866-41-TRUTH

Website: http://www.antiadoption.org

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