Rich Uhrlaub on Ending Shame & Secrecy in Adoption Policy

Much of what people “know” about adoption — especially the parts that come from decades past — is bunk. Many adoption policies and practices formed in shame and secrecy during the 20th century have proven to be less-than-optimal for people living in adoption.

In this new episode of my podcast, Adoption: The Long View, I get to speak with adoptee and activist Rich Uhrlaub. Addressing antiquated notions of bygone eras, Rich has a lot to say about adoptees who grew up as a dirty little secret, several reasons why genetic information is important to adoptees, and what the alternative to shame and secrecy needs to be in our current practices.

Richard Uhrlaub – The Colorado Sun
Rich Uhrlaub of asrconline.org

Rich has been involved in adoption issues for a long time, perhaps most impactfully by being instrumental in changing the laws in my home state of Colorado. Thanks in no small part to Rich’s efforts, as of 2016, Tessa and Reed and tens of thousands or other adoptees born here now have the same ability as other adults to access their original birth certificates.

And they sky hasn’t fallen.

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Both Sides Now: Carolyn Savage on Pregnancy & Placing a Newborn

Carolyn Savage has one of the most chaotic family building stories you’ll ever hear. Now mom to 6 children, Carolyn was the perfect person to write the foreword to my book 7 years ago.

Why? Because as a book by and for both adoptive parents and birth parents, Carolyn was in the position of having experienced both sides of placing and receiving a baby —

— with a few twists and turns.

It was my pleasure and honor to catch up with Carolyn Savage in the latest episode of my podcast, Adoption: The Long View. Though she can’t technically be classified as either an adoptive mom or a birth mom, her family building story includes essential elements of both.

Carolyn and Sean Savage with the newborn they placed in the arms of another couple.

You may recall hearing Carolyn’s story in the news back in 2009 because of the stir it caused then, or in her book that came out a few years later, Inconceivable.

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Competing Forces: Centripetal In Here and Centrifugal Out There

There are two competing forces exerting pressure on me these days. Maybe you feel them, too.

Centripetal: Inward Toward Unity

Here’s a list of things in my life that tell me it’s possible — desirable! — to bring opposites together, to transcend beyond the duality of opposites.

competing forces in 2020
  • Yoga, which means the yoking of opposites. Such as inhale/exhale, inner/outer, masculine/feminine, upper/lower, right/left, front/back, root/rise, effort/ease, contraction/expansion.
    • I want to be both strong AND flexible, not one at the expense of the other.
  • DBT, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, is a “philosophical dialectical process of hypothesis and antithesis, followed by synthesis.” Through metacognition (mindfulness), I expand my thinking/believing/feeling to cover both poles, both opposites. Being able to do so can make me feel more whole.
    • I aim to love all parts of me, including the ugly ones I try to hide even from myself.
  • Open-hearted adoption. Over and over again I see that a BothAnd view serves all parties better than an Either/Or view, which splits the baby. The BothAnd concept goes not only for “real” parents, but also for the range of emotions anyone in an adoption has about adoption.
    • When I honor my children’s connections to their original family, it adds to my children without taking away from me. Also, I acknowledge that open-hearted adoption is really hard at times — as well as rewarding.
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adoption, parenting, mindfulness, open adoption