“The Virus Babies”

Published on Medium.com today!

“The Virus Babies” is speculative short fiction about the end of adoption.

It’s a quick read.

I enjoy dystopian stories. Especially when it feels like we’re really living in dystopia. I find that writing dystopian fiction exorcises my anxiety a bit.

And here’s another piece of short fiction about adoption.


“Escape from the virus babies”
collage by author

What I Spent to Give My Child Up

What I Spent
collage by author

What I Spent to Give My Child Up for Adoption is on Medium.com today.

It’s my response to a piece in the New York Times about the high price tag of adoptions.

And here are a couple more thoughts on the price of giving up a child.

I write about adoption

Here’s why

I write about adoption, but it can be awkward, this birthmother/ first mother thing. The other night I attended a birthday party, and chatted with a couple I hadn’t yet met here in my rather large condo building.  They passed their 4-month-old back and forth between them as we were introduced. I knew from our building’s private Facebook group that the baby had come into their lives unexpectedly. This little boy, with the face of a wise old man, had surprised his bio parents too. His mother denied her pregnancy until she was rushed to the ER. The father was even more surprised. 

“Denise is a writer,” someone said as they introduced me.

“What do you write about?” the baby’s mother asked.

“I write about adoption,” I said, trying not to pull any punches, as I gestured toward the baby.

They might have flinched a little. I might have mumbled a half-hearted qualifier. But then I told them my story, and they told me theirs. “There won’t be any secrets,” the dad said. “He’s going to know the whole story.”

“He’s going to know everything,” the mother said.

“It was so different back in the day,” we said simultaneously, meaning the Baby Scoop Era. “Secrets,” we muttered. “Lies.”

What I dread most

And then neither of them said what I dread most. You were so generous to give up your baby.  No one gives up a baby out of generosity. Here, have mine, says absolutely no one. Really, take him. I insist. C’mon, you know you want him. The most wonderful, kind, intelligent people utter this generosity line. They say it because they don’t know what to say. They say it because they want to be kind. They say it because they know that saying, “How could you do that?” is the wrong thing to say, and they are desperately searching for the right thing to say.

I write fiction and essays

I write about adoption because I have a lot to say about it.. So many thoughts about what we could say to others. Thoughts about how we could change things. Here’s a short story (fiction) that I published on Medium.

And here’s an essay (a true story) about giving up my son, also on Medium.

National Adoption Month

National Adoption Awareness Month is two-thirds over. I’m going to keep posting on Medium until I turn the calendar page. I’ll take a break then, but I’ll be back. Follow this blog. Or follow me on Twitter @demanuelclemen

“Bridges” a short story

Stone Arch Bridge
photo by author

“Bridges” is a short story. It’s brand new, and it’s published here.

This story is not about adoption per se. But it is about lies. And secrets. And about reunion. If you want to read more pieces, both fiction and nonfiction, about adoption, you can find them here.

And speaking of lies, secrets, and adoption, here’s a shocking new piece about adoption from South Korea. So many parents told lies about their children. So many children told lies about their parents.

“You would see 70 or 80 babies in the infant’s nursery, and then, one day, 20 or 40 would be suddenly gone,” he said.

Secrets and Lies in Adoption

The big cover-up!
Cover up those secrets and lies!
photo by author

Medium.com essays

Secrets and lies abound in the the world of adoption. I’m finished with secrets and lies and have been for some time. November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Or NAAM, for short. I’ve made a promise to myself to write about my experience with adoption. I’ve been posting pieces on Medium. Here’s another one:

More writing

And here’s where you can find links to various publications where my fiction and nonfiction about adoption appear.

The Birthmother Myth

Preconceived notions

The birthmother myth. What myth? You already know plenty about birthmothers, right? Or you think you do. But these women and girls who have given up their children might not be quite what you think they are.

Myth busting

I have another piece that was featured on Medium yesterday in their publication called Human Parts. It might surprise you.

Birthmother Myth: A girl can't go to her prom secretly seven and a half months pregnant.
Birthmother Myth:
A girl can’t go to her prom secretly seven and a half months pregnant.

photo property of author

Dystopia’s Child


photo by author



National Adoption Month

“Dystopia’s Child” was originally published in LUMINA vol. XVIII. Yesterday I republished it on Medium.com. Because…

November is National Adoption Awareness Month.

Not just happy stories

As a birthmother, I’m a proponent of lots of different types of adoption stories. Not just the happy ones we’re blasted with all during the month of November. Because, well… not all adoption stories are happy. Every adoption begins with loss. A child losing their mother. A mother losing her child.

You can find the story, Dystopia’s Child, here.

Links to other stories and nonfiction essays about adoption are here.

The World of Adoption

This is the world of adoption. Right here. A small writers’ retreat on a lake in Minnesota.

There are five participants, not counting our retreat facilitator. Around the fire next to the lake over our first glass of wine, we discovered that our group includes a birthmother, an adoptee, an adoptive parent, and a grandmother of a newly adopted infant. Four out of five of us living in the world of adoption. What are the odds?

Ten years ago I would have probably alienated myself from everyone but other birthmothers. And years before that, I would have been too secretive to tell anyone my story. It’s not that I feel any differently now about adoption in general. It’s not that I feel any less pain about my own experience. I guess what’s different is that I’m more able to listen to the experiences of others and take in their feelings. I’m hoping I’ll leave with friends.

Families at the Border

art credit: Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis

Separating parents and children

Families at the border are suffering.

We weep. Tear our hair. Exclaim to the heavens about the un-American practice of separating children and parents at the border. But we are all amnesiacs, sleep-walking through the history of a county that has never lived up to its ideal of greatness.Throughout history we have ripped children from their parents. In Jelani Cobb’s e sharp-eyed comment on Juneteenth, he sites slavery and the horrors of torn apart Native American families, performed in the name of the greater good, as well as the deficiencies of our social services system..

Adoption

Adoption is another way of tearing families apart. Take a look at Georgia Tann, a well-known adoption villain. But also let’s point our gaze toward adoption “heroine” Edna Gladney. Peer below the surface there and find more hearts destroyed. More families torn apart in the name of greater good.

Separating children from parents is what we do in this country. It’s what we’ve always done. If you’re too brown, too black, too young, too poor, too foreign, someone will be happy to judge you as unfit to parent your child. What’s new is that now our president and his cronies are actively orchestrating the new version of this terror.

As the policy of separating families at the border is mitigated (supposedly), I predict that some of those children will never find their way back into the arms of their parents.