The last few weeks have been triggering. I have to speak up. Recently, there has been an avalanche of information floating around adoption land having to do with pre-birth consent for adoption, and the right to change your mind about adoption as the natural parent of your baby.
You would think the laws and legislation would be black and white on these matters, but when you bring self dealing attorneys, judges, and a desperate childless single woman , you have muddy waters.
These people are acting in a self dealing capacity. This is different from a conflict of interest. The definition of self dealing is here:
Self–dealing is the conduct of a trustee, an attorney, a corporate officer, or other fiduciary that consists of taking advantage of his/her position in a transaction and acting for his/her own interests rather than for the interests of the beneficiaries of the trust, corporate shareholders, or his/her clients.
The definition alone haunts me. Twenty years ago, I entered a Social workers office. I was there at my aunt’s suggestion that I get information about all my options before deciding on parenting. I was immediately taken under said social workers wing, where I was given sympathy, and understanding because I was unwed and pregnant. It didn’t matter that I told her I wanted to keep my baby. Her job was to give me information about the open adoption option. It was not approached that way though. She gave me the info, but also gave me a stack of home studies to read though to pick a set of parents. She claimed it was just so that I could “get a better idea” of who was out there wanting to adopt. It was never to just mull over the info she gave me. I was given the home studies and an appointment a week later to tell her who I was interested in meeting with. At the end of the visit (seemingly as an afterthought) she went over to the cupboard that held the home studies and pulled one off the top. She put it at the top of my stack and said “These people are really ready for a baby.” I cringe now at the thought that I fell for that line. It made me feel like A) I had to pick a couple. B) That I had to pick that couple.(which I did)
I thought this social worker was helping me explore my options, but she wasn’t. She was acting in a self dealing way. She was taking a vulnerable pregnant expectant mother, and steering her towards the outcome she desired, because that outcome would put several thousand dollars into her bank account.
In a recent case in adoption land, a newborn baby, Elliott Rossler, was taken from his loving mother Kimberly Rossler from the only home he’s ever known. Like in my case, 20 yrs prior, the adoption attorney, Donna Ames, told the expectant mother Kimberly Rossler “I have ‘the perfect’ Mom in mind for you.” My skin crawled when I read this. In 20 yrs, nothing has changed. This case was made all the more disturbing in that Kimberly changed her mind before she gave birth, and yet, three weeks AFTER his birth, sheriffs came to her home and apprehended HER son as she was breastfeeding in order to give him to the prospective adoptive mother, Kate Sharp.
During the time Kimberly was pregnant she, like me, was not given accurate information. She was advised, supported, and counseled by Donna Ames. I was advised, supported, counseled by the social worker. They both acted in a way that was Self dealing. The whole time when we thought, and they came across, as our allies, they were working in the background against our impending motherhood. They were working to separate us from our children. 20 yrs ago, I changed my mind about adoption. I asked for my baby back. Kimberly changed her mind before the birth or her son. There are similarities in this though. Even though I couldn’t sign until after birth, and she unknowingly signed before birth, we both were not made implicitly aware HOW to legally change our minds. The relinquishment part is made clear, but there is always the “but if you change your mind and decide to keep, that’s no problem.” It something that is glossed over, and spoken in “we will cross that bridge when we come to it” terms.
In my case, I had 30 days to change my mind about consent. You would think that, because I changed my mind that I had lots of time to legally withdraw consent. I went to my social worker and told her I wanted my baby back. This happened twice. She would answer me with the question “What about the adoption do you want changed?” I would then tell her again I wanted him back, and I would get a long string of reasons he was better left where he was. He was better left in “The only home he has ever known” because he went there straight from the hospital. I was not told that to revoke consent I had to file paperwork with the courts within the 30 day period. I didn’t find that out until well after the 30 days was up. I was stunned by this omission because she was the one who said I didn’t need a lawyer, she would handle everything for me.
It makes sense that Kimberly went to Donna to let her know she had decided to parent. She knew that she has 5 days to revoke her consent to the adoption of her son AFTER his birth. She told Donna that she had changed her mind, and she told her BEFORE the birth, so she was way ahead of her allotted five days AFTER birth. Everyone involved knew she had withdrawn her consent. Donna didn’t tell her that there was more to revoking consent than just letting everyone know, but she kept that information to her self. She was Kimberly’s friend and confidant. She was, like the Adoption Rocks website says:
Do I need an attorney/lawyer? No you do not need an attorney and there are no costs to you. The adoptive family, or the agency involved, will handle all the legal details on your behalf.
Kimberly’s son Elliott came home straight from the hospital too. He resided there with his mother for three weeks….in the only home he has ever known. He was also exclusively breastfeeding. I can only imagine the stress little baby Elliott was in when suddenly his mother was gone, there were new smells everywhere, and the comfort of being skin to skin with his mother was replaced by a stranger giving him a bottle.
Donna Ames blurred the lines to become a friend/supporter/ally/and legal representative to this expectant mom. Kimberly trusted her implicitly. Donna Ames never once corrected her when she spoke to Greg, the father of her yet to be born child, and told him, her attorney would be calling him to arrange for him to terminate his rights, and it was in fact Donna Ames who did call him and speak to him about just that. Donna Ames wasn’t just a support to Kimberly, she was a friend. They even supposedly got together in December to bake cookies together for an adoption fundraiser for Adoption Rocks, where Donna was allegedly asking her for some ideas for Fundraising in the future. Donna even went to a Dr’s appointment with Kimberly, and at that visit, had the nerve to take pamphlets about Adoption Rocks with her to place in the waiting room. She went to that Dr’s appointment with self-serving motives. She was there to promote her business. She makes her living by completing successful adoptions. The lines here become again, very blurred. That isn’t professional anymore, that’s personal. That whole time, Donna put on a show so that Kimberly would feel safe, and cared for and supported. It’s very much like the pre-birth matching with a prospective adoptive parent, which she was also a part of at the time. Kimberly was surrounded by wolves in sheep’s clothing. Everyone around her had the notion to separate her from her baby, even when she changed her mind before Elliott was born.
In my province of B.C, it is illegal to give or spend any money on or for an expectant mom if you are matched with her, and are planning on adopting her baby. In my case, my sons parents were scared to even buy me a coffee, lest it come back to bite them later. Not in Alabama though. It’s totally legal to pay for “expenses” for the duration of a pregnancy. What makes it muddy again, is that in a situation like that, you would think that a bank account would be opened up and the money deposited as needed. In this case, Donna Ames allegedly hand delivered cash right to Kimberly’s door. This reminds me of the birthmothers that were dispatched around me right after I relinquished. They kept an eye on me and reported everything back to my social worker. I thought they were my friends. Kimberly thought of as Donna as her confidant, supporter and friend. Really, Donna was keeping her eye on the prize. For every successful adoption she completes, she makes thousands.
This case really disturbs me. It’s hard for me to write about, because although 20 yrs apart, there are obvious similarities between Kimberly’s experience and my own. Kimberly should be at home with Elliott, HER baby, right now. Donna Ames claims to have removed herself from the case. I don’t blame her really, this is not going to go away. This case will destroy her career. It did destroy my social workers career. The year after I relinquished my son, the new adoption act was put into place. It prevented people like my social worker from being able work both sides of Private Adoption by:
- supporting and being an ally to expectant moms.
- counseling expectant women about adoption.
- running the birthmoms support group.
- paying other birthmothers a fee to “talk to” an expectant mom about how great adoption is.
- paying other birthmoms to “keep an eye” on new birthmothers during the revocation period (and only getting paid when that period is up).
- provide legal information to pregnant girls, saying she could answer their questions and they didn’t need a lawyer.
While also, at the same time:
- Doing home studies for Prospective Adoptive Parents.
- running groups for PAPs using paid birthmothers and adoptive parents as a panel to talk about how great open adoption is.
- Drawing up “openness agreements” between parties and not using a lawyer.
- being paid money directly by the new adoptive parents when the adoption was completed.
My social worker got out of doing adoption work after the adoption act changed, because what she was doing was Self dealing, and unethical. Private adoption is a slippery slope. B.C now has protections in place to protect women from professionals like my social worker. Not so in Alabama. I’m watching the horror unfold right before my eyes.
Donna Ames has been self dealing this whole time. It’s not about whats best for Elliott, it’s about what is best for Donna. It was all fine and good until people started to learn just what she and her associates have been up to, but it’s too late.
Blurred lines and Self dealing for Donna Ames looks like this:
- “allegedly” hand delivering the “monthly gift” directly to Kimberly’s door in cash instead of a certified check.
- Allegedly attending a Dr’s appointment with Kimberly (as a lawyer that looks unprofessional, as a friend, ally and support person that looks suspect because she would be profiting from an adoption).
- Allegedly inviting Kimberly to bake cookies with her for an adoption fundraiser for Adoption Rocks, and while there asking her input on fundraising ideas. (Blurs the lines between friend and professional again).
- when Kimberly told her she was keeping her baby, Donna texted Kimberly’s therapist telling her that Kimberly was mentally unstable and manipulative and had stolen Kate’s money. (Donna makes her living off of adoption proceeds, if an adoption was not going to happen she stood to lose thousands of dollars).
The list goes on here. To say this case is a landmine of unethical practice in the world of private adoption is the understatement of the year. To say this case is heartbreaking, needless, and devastating to a mother and her child is also the understatement of the year. Bring baby Elliott home!