"Be My Baby" Protester Devotes Life to Adoptees and Natural Moms

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Adoptee Joe Soll, CSW, is one of 25 adoptees and natural mothers who protested the 20/20 Barbara Walters "Be My Baby" special outside of ABC Studios in New York City on April 30, 2004. His stand against this show in which five couples compete for 16 year old Jessica's baby is based on years of experience supporting and counseling natural moms and adoptees.

People have come from as far away as South Africa and Australia to attend adoptee Joe Soll's "Healing Weekends" in Congers, NY. The healing weekend experience is for those separated by adoption, primarily adoptees and natural mothers.

Joe, a black market baby, was adopted at birth. He began a search for his natural mother in 1982 and now 22 years later has acknowledged that he probably will never find her. He first started a support group in 1983, which evolved into the formal organization of non-profit Adoption Crossroads® in 1986, including an informative website at http://www.adoptioncrossroads.org. He eventually added the "Healing Weekends" held six times a year, for adoptees and natural moms.

About starting his support group, Joe said: "I realized the search group I was going to was missing the boat by not working on feelings. I was so used to feeling (over)whelmed that I needed to do something for me and others."

The website presents a picture of adoption that most people never hear about: The picture presented is from the perspective of natural parents and adoptees. In the articles and on the forum, the words grief, loss, anger, trauma and even exploitation are found. There is mention of injury from separating moms and their babies. Is it all Joe's experience only? No, many adoptees and moms are telling their stories and searching for support and validation of their feelings. Because of the misperception in the United States that everything about adoption is good, this type of support is almost non-existent for adoptees and natural family members.

An Electrical Engineer, Joe has spent time on the top of the Empire State building and the World Trade Center, installing TV transmission facilities in the towers and transmitters in the facilities below the roof, as well as designing computer systems for those same facilities.

Running the meetings and going to therapy himself led Joe to graduate school in social work, which he began about the same time he got a BS in Computer Science. He graduated with an MSW in 1990, took the state licensing exam and became a certified social worker.

The support group meetings held in Manhattan and in Congers, NY, draw people from as far away as Boston to the North and Baltimore to the South.

About the support aspect of his work, Joe says this: "I am often asked if we can truly heal from our wounds…Injuries caused by separation of mother and child can, in time and with work, be dealt with effectively to the point where the loss will not interfere with our daily lives. Instead the pain might rear its head a few times a year." In spite of the optimism in his statement, Joe emphasizes the words "in time and with work" in bold lettering.

Regarding searching for a lost relative, Joe said: "My website has a referral list of over 470 search/support groups world-wide. My biggest concern for those searching is that they prepare. If they truly prepare, it will be a win-win in the end."

Asked what one thing he would change about adoption, Joe quickly stated: "I'd eliminate it. I'd do what other more civilized countries do: Great sex education and provide services for women to keep their babies. Many countries with good sex education have the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the world, the lowest abortion rates in the world and an almost negligible number of mothers and babies separated by adoption. Utilize kinship care and guardianship for those children whose mothers are unable to care for them."

"If twelve babies are separated from their moms in Holland in any given year that would be a lot. In the US, a mom and her baby are separated on average every 10 minutes, which adds up to over 51,000 a year."

From one of the attendees at his Healing Weekend: "For me, each session was like peeling back the layers of an onion to get to the core…I will be forever grateful to Joe Soll (and his commitment to healing the deep wounds that placing a child for adoption inflicts on all of us). - Jeanne from WI"

Joe has also authored the two "Adoption Healing" books; the one specifically "for Moms" is co-authored by Karen Wilson Buterbaugh. Said adoptee Patty Schlossberg regarding Joe's first book, which is for adoptees: "You have no idea how much it helped me. Before reading the book, I had no idea how things were from the mothers' perspective. I felt I was unwanted and had just been more or less dumped. Reading this book has helped me look at what happened in a new light and has validated what my natural mother had been trying to tell me."

The second book "for Moms" validates the feelings of mothers who have lost a child to adoption, providing ample quotes and dispelling myths. This quote from the book shows how attitudes towards helping mothers changed over time as the demand for "adoptable" infants increased:

"The Crittenton caseworker's careful records reveal how the agency, which had originally gone to great lengths and expenses to compel a woman to keep her child, now applied great psychological pressure upon a mother to place her child for adoption." – And Sin No More: Social Policy And Unwed Mothers In Cleveland 1855 To 1990 – Marian J. Morton (1993)

One of Joe's favorite quotations is from Anna Freud: "The horrors of war, pale beside the loss of a mother." Joe modifies the original quote adding "(or a baby)" on the end of it to cover a mother's loss experience.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Joe Soll, CSW

Adoption Crossroads®

74 Lakewood Dr.

Congers, NY 10920

Phone: (845) 268-0283

http://www.AdoptionCrossRoads.org

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Laurie Frisch

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