Monica Kelsey does it again!
In a recent TikTok, Monica Kelsey, founder and CEO of Safe Haven Baby Boxes continued her assault on adopted people and adoptee rights. In previous renditions (example) she claimed that we “hate adoption.” SHBB’s Inc’s “trained ” counselor and hotline coordinator evangelical purity educator, and forced birth advocate, Pam Stenzel, (also adopted), calls those of us who oppose baby boxes, “mentally unstable.” This time around Mrs. Kelsey really jammed it with a head butt into her screen to get her point across that adoptees “with issues” aren’t welcome at her table.
The video lasts only 33 seconds, and you really need to watch it to get the full impact (If I did trigger warnings, I’d do it on this one. Does she talk and look like someone with no adoption issues? She doth protest too much!
Adaption trauma. You’re saying that every person who was adopted has emotional trauma from the adoption. I’m adopted. I don’t have emotional trauma because of the adoption. So if I don’t have emotional trauma and I’m one person out of thousands and thousands of people that were adopted, then that means not everyone has emotional trauma who is adopted? So take your little trauma narrative [headbutt] and go somewhere else.
I am comfortable saying that I have never witnessed this sort of trash talk outside of overly-entitled wannabe adopters and already-adopters who routinely tell “unhappy adoptees” and adoptee rights advocates to go soak it since these outsiders know more about adoptees and adoption than do adopted people. “Our adoptees are just fine, thank you.”
Even Gladney and Bethany social workers (today) don’t stick their foot in it that deep.
Even Bible-enthusiast “pro-lifers” know “(mostly) when to keep quiet.
Even Dr. Bill Pierce, founding president of the National Council for Adoption, who dedicated the last 30 years of his life to maintaining the sealed records system didn’t claim that adoption didn’t come with “problems” and even trauma.
Of course, adoptees have different adoption experiences and reactions, but…
…Adoption trauma, which Mrs. Kelsey ridicules, is a recognized clinical diagnosis (as is CPSTD); with self-diagnosis for many more. In a larger context, “adoption issues” exist across the adoptee experience and spectrum–race, class, sex, gender, ability, and religion.
No matter how “good” an adoption may be, or seem to be, the problems are there. Of the literally thousands of adoptees, including Mrs; Kesley, I have had contact with in my 40 years or so of adoptee rights work, I have encountered no one without some kind of adoption issue centered on negative feelings of self-worth, self-esteem, rejection, and abandonment. These are exacerbated by archaic legal practices and social systems of bastard birth, socially constructed shame, and adoption secrecy (including sealed records), lack of identity, origin, and medical history, inability to maintain relationships, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in biological, and adoptive homes and foster care, illegal and legal re-homing, rejection by adopted and biological families, and in the case of certain groups of international adoptees–deportation to their countries of origin. Whether mild in nature or dire in consequence, adoption problems in some manner, influence and define those transported into the adoption system by bad law, punitive social beliefs and practices, and frequent good intentions. No one (we hope) suffers from them all. They are, however, the whole of the “little trauma narrative” that Mrs. Kelsey invalidates and banishes from her discourse. Those who disagree are labeled unhappy troublemakers.
It’s quite an adopteephobic wallop, then, that Mrs. Kelsey delivered on TikTok–especially coming from an adoptee who repeatedly says that she suffered from adoption problems–particularly self-worth and self-esteem–before and after she learned her adoption story.
In her book Blessed to Have been Abandoned, (p 11- 22 for the complete story) she writes:
. . . Growing up an adoptee has come with a host of emotions that many fail to understand. Some people believe that happy adoptees and those adopted as infants have no hurt feelings of loss or abandonment But the truth is that ALL adoption involves loss, and then requires grieving The grieving look different for every adoptee.
It is wrong to assume that adoptees who were adopted as infants do not grieve the loss of their birth family and birth identity. Adoption is confusing. A part of me would be forever thankful adoption was a big part of my reality and my childhood. Another part of me was stuck in the unknown and confusion that is adoptions–wondering about all the “what if’s” in life.
Those feelings led her on a successful search and reunion journey—a success that she now denies other adoptees. Her “mothers demand anonymity” mandate leaves few if any breadcrumbs for her “saved” babies to follow when they grow up.
Her feelings did not improve when she learned that she is the product of violent rape, was almost aborted, and was abandoned by her birthmother two hours after her birth. She was especially disturbed that her biological grandmother had attempted to force an illegal abortion on her birthmother—that she could have been “murdered.” Already opposed to abortion but with exceptions (she now opposes it across the board) Mrs. Kelsey, like many “pro-lifers,” determined that adoptions like hers are an alternative to abortion. Devestated by her story, she sought a purpose for her pain and life.
As the days became weeks and the weeks became months, I began to look at my life as a lie. Instead of being the loved and cherished daughter of my adoptive parents, I was an unwanted child thrust into this world by violence. I questioned my life, my very existence, in a world that once held so much meaning. Was I alive by a mere stroke of luck or by the grace of God? There are seminal moments in everyone’s life when who and what they thought they were is challenged in a deeply profound and earth-shattering way. I began to look at my life from a distance, as if through a telescope with only a pinprick of light visible at the very end How was I supposed to pick myself up and continue to live a life now deemed as a mistake from the start? How could I go on pretending I didn’t know the truth? Was that punishment? Why did God choose this life for me?
Reiterating the thoughts of many adoptees about their own adoptions, Mrs. Kelsey assessed her adoptive life sanely:
This sucks. I don’t want this to be my life.
And like many adoptees she sought answers on how she could stop this adoption insanity in herself and maybe others.
Instead of working to unsuck her life (and perhaps the lives of other adoptees) by speaking out about her own issues or stepping further into the arena to work to clean up the mess—things that her “pro-life”/pro-adoption crowd needs to hear about— Mrs Kelsey went topsy-turvey. In a grand gesture of cognitive dissonance (or survivor guilt?) she decided to “purpose- through-pain” her life by super-sucking us. She created a “unique” newborn adoption relinquishment procedure aimed at “desperate women” whom she believed would dumpsterize their newborns to avoid problems for themselves and/or their babies if the pregnancy and birth were known: the Safe Haven Baby Box. Her so-called “life-saving” box-in the-wall dump plan was built on already established safe haven laws in all 50 states that have legalized “anonymous abandonment” by personal handover at designated locations. Under the guise of “baby saving” her scheme meshed nicely with her established anti-abortion work, She is horrified and puzzled that traditional safe haven advocates and organizations do not support boxes and work against their implementation. She tends to ignore adoptee non-compliance–her TikTok outburst excepted.
Mrs. Kelsey likes to claim that babies left in boxes are not abandoned as she supposedly was (her adoption story has some holes) since they are “lovingly surrendered” safely into the box. She ignores that feelings of abandonment top the list of issues that adoptees as a whole, no matter how they entered AdoptionLand, experience. “They’re only in the box for a minute,” she says. “How can they be traumatized?”
Like, what could be more abandoning and devaluing than being stuck in a box so your mother won’t be embarrassed by your unexpected appearance? To top of that: “Your mother loved you so much she didn’t murder you.” That’s just mind fucking.
The problem. of course, is not spending a minute or two in a box, that won’t be remembered, but what comes after. Year after year those babies will grow into cognitive children and adults that will have to navigate their narrative and their unknown and the purposeful and encouraged erasure of their identity, histories, families, lack of genuine birth records, and whatever follows. Mrs. Kelsey says she navigated her own adoption only through the help of Jesus, and that she will “walk beside” the box babies as they age to help them.
Does she not see the hypocrisy? Again, she doth protest too much.
The personal is the political.
Does Mrs. Kelsey really expect us to remain quiet and take the “little trauma narratives” of “her” boxed babies and our own somewhere else? Those babies are members of the Adoptee Family. We won’ abandoned them.
There is much more to say about this, but big news is afoot. Two Ohio baby boxes have been deactivated by the state—and boy is there a story there, despite what Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc whines about in public.