Monday, December 31, 2007



©2007 Celeste Billhartz

I abhor  injustice

The false imprisonment 

Of wrongly-accused, wrongly-charged, wrongly-sentenced men and women

I implore the civilians, officials, professionals -- 

Who put them there and keep them there 

Who refuse to release them --

How dare you refuse to right the wrongs? 

Your wrongs, Sir or Madam ... your wrongs ... :-( 

Sunday, December 30, 2007


My computer crashed ... I bought a new one ... I wrote a long piece about it, but can't figure out how to post it. So, here's a poem that sums up much of my recent experience. CB


©2007 Celeste Billhartz

In the aftermath of loss, came fear

And sudden, necessary change

So, I rebuilt my perceptions --

Who I am, now

What I value, now

I thought my past was decades old

It isn't. It is yesterday

And every moment matters

There are so few certainties, now

I see my world has limits

Thus, I treasure moments more

Friday, December 28, 2007

Listening and The Listener


©2007 Celeste Billhartz

I know listening when I hear it

Foremost, it does not interrupt

It doesn't change the focus from thee to me

From your exasperation to my solution

Listening is a learned skill, an art

Or, it is born of compassion

From having not been heard


The Listener

©2007 Celeste Billhartz

The impatient one speaks harshly

Another is kind

Yet, in the midst of my expressions of fear and confusion

The impatient one listened, and listened, and listened ... 

And  I found my way to acceptance and a new bravery

The kind one stopped me short 

Told me what and when and how she solved her problem ...

And I vowed never to reveal myself to her, again

Less and Less and Less

Less and Less and Less

©2007 Celeste Billhartz

There's something missing in our country. I've been feeling that way for quite some time, but I never talk about it much. Yesterday I sat with an older gentleman  in the customer waiting area at our local car repair shop. I asked  if he minded my turning up the volume on the TV. He didn't mind. Soon, we were chatting about the annoyingly-loud and too-frequent commercials that interrupted the show. 

"Greed," he said. "It's all about money."

We both listed numerous examples of  how  money  influences politics, war, daily life. He fears for his grandkids' debt-saturated lives. We abhor the seeming loss of honesty in government, the horror  of our country losing so many young people in Iraq. The horror of Iraq. The answers neither of us has.

A little girl was playing with blocks at the children's table, so we spoke in soft,  abbreviated, cryptic ways so as not to frighten her. 

Just then, her  30-something father came in to help her finish a game and put the blocks away. He heard us mention Iraq ... and he barely contained his sadness. His cousin just died in the war. He said he has lost all respect for President Bush "He's probably a decent guy, you know, but I no longer trust him or his administration."

I looked at the older gentleman, who, by his appearance and fine features, surely votes Republican ...:) "I voted for him, twice," he said ... and shook his head.

The young fellow helped his daughter with her coat, nodded and smiled, and they left.

Commercial after commercial charred the air. The manager stepped in for a cup of coffee and told us we could change the channel. "Thanks," I said. We just kept staring at the television. 

"Do you feel like things are missing?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

We sat in silence for a long time, both sad, both wishing we had answers .. and proven good deeds from politicians who hadn't sold their souls. 

"We need Harry S. Truman," he said.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Thank you, God

Thank you, God ...
©2007 Celeste Billhartz

The blessing of showers ... that's what I am thankful for. I thank God, each time I am blessed with a hot shower, my favorite soap, shampoo, conditioner, fluffy towels, warm bathroom, comb, a barrette for my hair.

I thank God for clean clothing -- my favorite t-shirts, jeans, and the sox I love to wear with my favorite shoes.

Each day I haul my old frame into the tub, turn on the water and feel so blessed to have a hot shower I say, "Thank you, God ... thank you."

And, each time, I wonder who is blessing homeless old women with hot showers and shampoo, with soft towels and clean clothes?

I envision portable showers and donated soaps and shampoos and towels and clothing. Surely, some group or other does that for the homeless. I hope so, because there is some measure of peace and healing .. a blessing ... in showers.

If I were homeless, that's what I would appreciate most, I think -- a safe place to go for a hot shower and some clean clothes. They wouldn't have to match or be the right size; just some clean clothes ... and maybe, a barrette for my hair.


©2007 Celeste Billhartz

There was a news story on TV about an old circus elephant shackled and displayed in a small zoo that closed. She was sent to a larger zoo where she saw another elephant ... for the first time in 20 years.

The two of them called to each other, so loudly, so persistently, that the zookeepers finally opend the gate and allowed them to touch each other. Turns out, records show that they knew each other. Years ago, they were in the same circus.

As the narrator ended the story, I whispered, "Oh, my God!" and I cried. I cried because I knew that ADOPTING is a circus and we are the elephants, separated from our herd, sent far away, dressed up and taught to perform on cue.

And I thought about the circus audiences who are thrilled to see the elephants! They don't think about them having been taken from their families, forced to learn tricks, forced to perform for them. They would protest, I'm sure ... if they thought the elephants were mistreated, but they are well-trained and well-fed. So, the show goes on.

Most adoptive mothers are good women who mean no harm in their adopting an infant. They don't see the mother/family from whom the child was taken. They don't see the incalculable losses, all around.

The adopters, their families and friends see only the "circus" baby dressed up, re-named and taught to twirl and dance on cue.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Adoption Reality

Adoption Reality
©2007 Celeste Billhartz

A few months ago I got a photograph from a mother who visited with her daughter, in a hospital room. In the photo she is showing her the beautiful little christening gown she had saved, all these 40-some years, to show her daughter that she never wanted to "give her up" for adoption. The daughter blinked, "Yes" in acknowledgment ... her body frozen by ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease. My friend's other daughter took the photo and another daughter stood, nearby. They had come to say, Goodbye.

Not in the photo, but standing "guard" in the room, was the adoptive mother, who would not allow them a precious few moments of privacy.

Four months later, my friend's daughter died. At the funeral service none of the adoptive family, and none of their eulogies, acknowledged this natural family, sitting there, grieving ... and not one person offered condolences on their loss.

The lies in adoption are many. We all tell them, every day. It's all we know, all we have been told to say, all that is allowed. We pretend our sisters, brothers, cousins are, really, ours; they are not. We pretend we have traits inherent in our adoptive families; they are not our traits.

And, all our lives, we protect our adoptive families from the truth: We have our own natural families, our own sisters, brothers, cousins ... our own trails of traits, somewhere, reaching back to the ancients in our souls.

And, our natural mothers ... we wonder where are they, who they are, why did they "give" us away?? Not having answers, not "awake" to the reality of adoption coercion, many of us pretend. We believe they didn't want us or wanted something else more -- school, a job, etc.

And, so, we make new lives among the strangers -- not of our skin, not of our hearts. We doze; we pretend. All our adoptive lives, we pretend. And, because we believe we are lucky to have been adopted/wanted, we protect ourselves with happy faces and words of gratitude.

Eventually, we are old enough to be more curious than content, so we ask about our origins. The good strangers -- and there are many -- tell us what they know, show us the original papers with the original names we must see, offer any help we may need to find our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles. How odd; we are strangers to our kin and we love our strangers.

Still, we must reunite. First, for our mothers, and then for ourselves. We both are owed nothing less.

Unfortunately, some adoptive mothers refuse to help adoptees reunite with their natural families and refuse to be gracious, helpful and respectful to natural mothers.

The adoption world has convinced adoptive mothers -- and most civilians -- that Amoms are the saviours of millions of babies/toddlers whose own mothers/families couldn't or wouldn't care for them as well as Amoms can and that natural mothers don't deserve to care for them as much as Amoms do.


Lawyers, doctors and adoption workers (many of them unmarried women who never had babies) have always taken advantage of young mothers instead of helping them. In closed adoptions of yesterday and open adoptions of today, all the players take advantage of scared young mothers. They count on their agreeing to "do what's best for the baby" well before the young women give birth, well before they know the powerful, undeniable, life-changing love they will feel for these little beings who slipped from their wombs and are, forever theirs, no matter what pre-birth agreements were signed.

These mothers -- millions of them -- are now "awake" ... and they know they were used by the indu$try to supply millions of infertile women (and today, single women) with babies.

Most of society doesn't know how devastating adopting is to young mothers. Most don't want to know, because they can't imagine being forced/schmoozed to surrender their own babies. They cannot imagine anyone daring to do that! They want to believe adopting is always -- and only -- in the best interests of the babies.

Truth is, adopting is a bu$iness.

When women stop paying big bucks to buy infants and toddlers, and when pregnant women are supported in keeping their babies, the bu$iness in adopting will dwindle, and babies will stay with their own families ... where they belong.

OK, you're an adoptive mother who is "waking up" -- now what?

• Help your adopted son or daughter know about his/her natural family. It isn't only a mother lost, but a whole tribe, a whole lineage, sides of two families, personality traits, physical traits, habits, health, quirks and talents. No more secrets. No more lies.

• If mother and child are planning to spend time together, don't stand in their way. Step aside. This is not about you.

• Let your conscience be your guide. You know right from wrong. Most of all, you know injustice when you see it.

In The Mothers Project, I tell the stories of the girl/mothers who lost their babies to adoption in past generations. The coercion continues. Adopting is woman's inhumanity to woman.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Mass is Ended

As an anti-adopting activist, I know the horror stories of adoption coercion committed against our mothers who lost their babies to prejudice and greed. The sad fact is, most of us were taken from good families and sold to good families. This is one of my favorite stories about my adoptive family. CB

The Mass is Ended ...
©2001 Celeste Billhartz

This week I escorted my dear aunt (age 96) to her final resting place. I had the honor of being a pallbearer, my first such experience. It was a rainy, cold day and, after the Mass, we had the option of holding the graveside service inside a small chapel at the cemetery, but we chose to carry her up the hill and through the trees. She was our matriarch and she would have insisted on that, rain or shine, for any of us.

The casket was very heavy and our shoes sank into the muddy grass as we each did our part to carry her safely there. With quiet tears and runny noses, we said goodbye. I was so thankful for the opportunity to give something back to her for the many kindnesses she had extended to me all my life.

She was the classy one. From her I learned how to lead, how to follow, how to entertain, and how to speak up for what I wanted, how to insist and persist ... and how to stay on good terms with the disagreeable.

The priest said some wonderful things about her and he reminded us that she lived almost an entire century ... through two world wars, numerous conflicts, the Depression, and saw the marvels of science and invention. We found out that she started a hot lunch program for the parish children ... almost 60 years ago. Our whispered ... "Wow!" echoed in the big old church.

At the funeral home, before the Mass, we welcomed the visitors. My cousins didn't think anybody but the immediate family would be there, because my aunt hadn't lived in that little town for many years ... but, that's where her husband is buried and that's where we all gathered to bury her.

We said our goodbyes to her, the doors opened, and soon the room filled with elderly cousins and friends from far places, former neighbors from other towns where they had lived, and people none of us remembered, but who had been in her life. They had read the obituaries in their local papers and they came to pay their respects. My aunt would have done that, yes.

Later, someone asked if I remember when funeral announcement cards were posted in every store ... and tavern. I didn't remember that. I remember my adoptive father's tavern and the brass spitoons I polished, when I went with him to open the place, at 6am ... and how men gathered there for "pool" (billiards) tournements ... and that my dad had a special child-size pool cue made for me! I bet I can still make a bank shot.

I rode back to the house with two of her grandsons, in their late 30's. Ah, what is it about synchronicity. They were teenagers when I last saw them. We hardly had any time together before the service, but they had insisted that they should drive me back. I thought that was rather sweet of them ... wanting to cart around an old lady for a two-hour drive through what's left of farmland and prairie.

As we passed farms and shopping malls, I told them about the taste of real pork sausage, about all the things I learned in a 1940's rural world, about butchering, about tractors and general stores, about a town marshal, about learning to use a rifle, how their aunts ... all of us ... knew how to shoot. They grew up in an "anti-this and anti-that" world; my world was ... different.

We had the best time! I found out e v e r y t h i n g I ever wanted to know ... and some of what I, surely, didn't need to know. Of course, we gleefully made a secrecy pact. Evidently, there are no big secrets in the family .. I just never was around to hear about any of it. Our pact was to not discuss our discussion; probably best.

1. They both left the church ... yeah, I know .. I did, too. You DID????...:) The driver feels really bad to have put his mother through that. He shook his head and marvelled at her willingness to be right there with him as they thrashed it out. He loves her for that and for accepting his religion and being there for the baptism of his children. My God, I thought, she is a strong and loving woman! (In her house there is a photograph of herself, her twin sister and me .. all spindly and squinting in the sunlight, in our Sunday dresses, probably from 1948. I looked at us and wondered ... when did we get old?)

2. The other fellow is struggling, terribly, with the Catholic thing ... he is searching for a welcoming place for worship.

3. The driver announced, sheepishly, and somewhat proudly, that he has become his father, after all; and, like his dad, he insisted on stopping for a huge bag of beer nuts and a Coke, after promising his mother that we would not eat anything before we get back to her house for lunch! She had smiled at me with that "And you will see to it, won't you?" look. And I had smiled, "Of course, dear." Oh well...:)

We took the long way back, driving past their grandmother's house ... oh, it used to be so much bigger, they said .. and, remember how grandpa used to back out of the garage and bump into that fence ... see? It's still bent! We laughed and sat there awhile, smiling, remembering.

Then, we tried to find my school, a beautiful old building that held so many memories and housed an order of nuns, but it had been torn down and a shopping mall is there. What a shame. They tried so hard to find it for me. Their mothers had gone there too, and they wanted to tell them they saw it.

We talked about their careers, their aspirations, and, woven through all of it, their boundless love for their grandmother ... and how she made them each .. and all of her grandchildren and nieces and nephews, feel powerful and special. Lots of kleenex and patpatpats. We agreed that we are glad it is over and very glad we did it the right way. Their shoes and trousers were caked with mud. They were pallbearers, too; it was their first time, too.

Church kept coming up. "How did you do it?" they asked. I told them the very brief version .... felt a need for a deeper spirituality, something was missing, had tried different parishes, etc; went on a two-year search for the right fit, the right religion, the right church. Tried 'em all ... everything from holy roller to Quaker. Really? Yep. Well, they had to hear every detail.

I told them I believe the search was spirit-inspired: two weeks after I found the right church, I found out I had cancer, and that little church congregation was a gift ... direct care for me in one of their homes and spiritual support. Then, one of them asked, "What does that feel like ... you know, I mean ... to find that out? Were you scared?" I said, "Yes, but, at first, all I felt was disbelief. I just couldn't believe it." (And I was thinking, they don't need to know all this! Do they?) Then I realized, this family doesn't talk about .... things...:)

Well, now they know everything there is to know about mastectomies and ... breast implants. (I could just see my dear aunt making a quarter-turn in that grave!)

During this short visit, I watched these wonderful men, and the other adults, interact with the twin girls (age 4) and their sister (age 10), who are the children of driver's sister. I was amazed at the respectful way they talked with them, how all of them accepted the interruptions in their adult conversations to comment on the proud little coloring projects, how their father took time to help the older girl with her math assignments, etc. I was ... amazed. I must have said that several times. I had experienced so little of that ... respectful talking, discipline with respect, expectations with respect ... but, I did get it from my aunts and uncles.

I had an opportunity to talk with the twins' mother and I told her how proud I am of her and her husband for their parenting. She thanked me and said that before they drove here, they told the girls, "Now, you will be having to do a lot of coloring this week and you must behave and mind your sister (age 10) because we will be very busy with the funeral."

And, they were ... with the exception of one very squeaky exchange ... when one of them drank from the other's cup. They are identical twins, and their grandfather cannot tell them apart. He asked, many times, "Which one are you?" They always said the other one's name... then laughed, jumped around and ran off.

Their "Papa" is retired and delights in going to his "building" ... this wonderful garage-of-sorts on the outskirts of town where he refinishes furniture he promises to sell ... but, keeps giving away to his daughter and son when they come to visit. He tells me, off to the side, "My wife thinks it's too cold in here and it's all junk" ... but he sees the treasure. He really loves showing off his woodworking tools and I loved seeing them. I told him, "Well, yeah, some people might think it's just an old shed, but I know it's your 'building'." Just then, my cousin walked in and said, "So, what do you think of his shed?" We all laughed.

When it was time to leave, Nanna and Papa drove me to the airport and insisted on going inside and waiting with me, just in case there's a problem with ... you know, "all this security business." We never talked about the 9/11 events, but we stood there, silent, knowing we share a profound love for our country. I grinned and told them I was careful not to wear my jacket with the Glock emblem. He knew what a Glock is, but my cousin wasn't sure ... and probably wouldn't want to know.

And I know, to the depths of my being, I know ... they love me and accept me ... all the oddball aspects of me. .. And they know I loved my aunt, who gave me the few ... truly, the few snippets of respect I had, as a child. I never knew I was loved and part of a family, until this visit. I know that I can tell them anything, be anything and still be loved, cherished. I am so grateful for that.

On the way to the airport, we talked about family things. I told them, again, about my amazement at how healthy and sweet their grown kids are, what good parents they are ... and how they had to have learned that from them. I decided to snip a little corner off the secrecy pact I had made with their son and told them how cute it was when he gave a long sigh and said he had become his father... and about the beer nuts and cokes. They laughed, and Papa's cheeks got red and he just ... beamed, his hands shifting and clasping the wheel.

We talked about all the grandkids. I told them that I really like the wildest one ... the glib, edgy, tell-it-like-it-is- one, with bright red hair ... this week; the one who carried her grandmother with me.

She was poised and careful and knew exactly what to do in church...which is a lot more than I knew. Besides, it was she, the hard one, who slipped her arm through mine at the cemetery and said, "I was at the hospice when your birthday card came last week for Grandma and I read it to her .. she was in a coma, but I read it really loud so she could hear it ... and I made sure she knew it was from you."

I will always love her for that ... and for creating the collective gasp that shot the through the livingroom when she suggested to Papa, quite seriously, that we settle this silly identity question ... by having the twins tattooed.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

All the Stolen

I followed the stories about missing children and wrote this song, All the Stolen. I sang it for one of the moms I interviewed for The Mothers Project. She was overwhelmed by it. She said that mothers who lose their children to abduction are the ones who most understand the constant terror, fear and longing of the mothers like herself, who lost their babies to adoption.

I started singing it at places where I present The Mothers Project. Now that travel with a guitar is burdensome, I just sing it acappella. Works for me.

All the Stolen
©2002 Celeste Billhartz

I've been searching the midnight sky
I remember the years gone by
Kiss good night in your warm, cozy bed
Little curls on your dreamy-dream head

In the news, on TV, radio
Photograph, call your friends, they don't know
Little boy, little girl, daughter, son
Search the world for my own stolen one

I've been searching the midnight sky
I remember the years gone by
Kiss good night in your warm, cozy bed
Little curls on your dreamy-dream head

To the man or the woman out there
Keeping secrets ... it's time, now, you share
Tell the truth, bring your proof, bare your soul!
Peace will come when you empty the bowl

I've been searching the midnight sky
I remember the years gone by
Kiss good night in your warm, cozy bed
Little curls on your dreamy-dream head

A sweet college girl out for a run
Just a kid on a bike, having fun
All the stolen ... return them, you must!
Point the way to their faces ... or dust

I've been searching the midnight sky
I remember the years gone by
Kiss good night in your warm, cozy bed
Little curls on your dreamy-dream head

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Two poems

The Branch
©2005 Celeste Billhartz

Someday, the man will cut the branch
The tree will look better from the road ... I know this
I have been tempted to make that tree fit some symmetry
I think the man will cut the branch soon after he moves in ...
Before he knows better ...:)
He'll spend a morning raking and sweeping beneath the tree
Intent on bagging that debris ...
Then, of a sudden ... he will see
He has no branch to lean his rake or broom against!
We mustn't make a thing perfect
There's every reason to let it be ...
The oddsome branch on an old cherry tree.
This is not a poem about my mother and me.
It is a familiar scene that breaks so many mothers' hearts. CB

The Old Women
©2006 Celeste Billhartz

How will the old women tell us why?
Will they smile, take our hands in theirs?
Say the usual things -- about "the times"
About their daughters, their nearly-ruined lives, the talk?
The shame of ... us?
Will they shudder, remembering?
They will be polite, of course.
Still, I wonder how they will say it, tell us why.

I found my mother.
"They made me give you up," she said.
"I know, Carol, I know."
The word -- Mom -- hung in my throat.
It was the most truthful word
And I couldn't say it, yet.

Her mother, the old woman I was about to meet,
Forced Carol to surrender me.
There was no "they" ... really.
All those middle-class wives ... desperate ...
What would people say ... about them?

All those old women -- millions of them --
Changed their daughters' lives, forever --
And rarely, ever -- for the good they ment.

"Nice to meet you, Grace."
She took my hands in hers and smiled,
"Grandma ... call me Grandma."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Credits for Prayer for Truth -- on YouTube

Click on the title, above, to see this powerful two-minute video! The credits are in the description, to the right of the YouTube screen. I include them here, too. Please share this video with your friends and organizations who may want to add it to their blogs and web sites.

I want to thank Chris Andrikanich, my Mac Guru and web guy for The Mothers Project web site The Mothers Project - Celeste Billhartz , for putting Prayer for Truth on YouTube!

Y'all have to know ... I am a 19th century women, flung into the 21st...:)

"Prayer for Truth"
from The Mothers Project

"Prayer for Truth" and "Celeste’s mother, Marcella"
©Celeste Billhartz •

"Little Joe"
©Joe Soll •

"Karen and Michelle Renee"
& "Karen’s senior photo"
©Karen Wilson Buterbaugh •

"Salvation Army officer consoling unmarried mother"
©Salvation Army Archives and Research Center •

Media production by Storytellers Media Group, LTD

Bring The Mothers Project to your area!

Saturday, November 17, 2007


©2007 Celeste Billhartz

Many years ago, I attended barber school. Yeah, "shave and a haircut" ... that kind of school. I still have my straight razor and I think I could still strop it, correctly. That's barberspeak for putting a sharp edge on the blade by moving it, deftly, quickly, over a leather strap. Real barbers call it a "strop" ..:)

When we knew what we were doing, we provided free shaves to street people. The men got to come in from the cold or heat and we got to practice our trade, under the watchful eyes of our instructors.

Lesson #1 was a reminder from our instructors: This is somone's son.

Boy, that got our attention. We never forgot it, always treated the men with respect and gentleness. Most were sad characters, alcoholic, addicted and otherwise-afflicted, or just down on their luck.

We would soften the scraggly beards by carefully draping a hot towel on their faces. Many of the fellows fell asleep in the chair, grateful to be off the streets and in a warm or air-conditioned building, safe in a soft barber chair, reclined, surrounded by the scent of Old Spice and soap and treated to facials as much as to shaves.

We, on the other hand, were treated to the most horrendous body odors, wafting up from soiled clothing, dirty bodies and open mouths of rotting teeth.

Lesson #2 was to sprinkle some Old Spice onto the hot towels ... then step away from the fellow, shake some Old Spice into our other hand ... and daub it into our noses. Works like a charm ...:)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

From the mouths of babes' mothers

New Organization to Probe Adoption Abuses

Plano, TX -- November 14, 2007 -- A new organization has been formed to investigate and shed light on what is known as the “Baby Scoop Era.” This was the period in American social history between 1945 – 1972. During this time, unprecedented numbers of white, middle-class mothers surrendered babies for adoption, often against their will.

The Baby Scoop Era Research Initiative, also known as BSERI, was founded in October 2007 by two mothers, Karen Wilson-Buterbaugh and Barbara Franks-Morra. Both lost newborns to adoption during this period.

Franks-Morra explained that maternity homes radically changed after 1945. As social workers took over management from altruistic religious organizations, homes that had once sheltered single mothers and prepared them to raise their children began instead to promote closed, stranger adoption.

Wilson-Buterbaugh stated, “The social work profession brought a psychological bias to their work with single mothers. They introduced the untested notion that single mothers were ‘neurotic’ and could be cured by taking their babies. This idea radically altered the outcomes for single mothers during this period. These practices persisted through 1972, when the number of domestic adoptions began to drop dramatically.”

“These homes, which were sometimes little more than reformatories, often used coercive practices such as shaming, blaming, and removing or withholding babies from new mothers to force adoptions. Mothers were then told to ‘go on with their lives’ as if nothing had happened. Obviously this was impossible for most of them.”

Franks-Morra said, “We demand acknowledgement of the historical truth surrounding past adoption practices in the United States. We demand recognition for the millions of women who were systematically denied their inalienable right to raise their infant sons and daughters.”

“The Baby Scoop Era has become a footnote in American social history, except to the mothers who survived these practices. These women have carried into their adult lives burdens of worry, grief, pain and a corrosive secret. The lifelong consequences of these forced adoptions are still operating in the lives of millions of American women.”

For more information, or email

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


My friend, Buddy, is moving into an assisted living center. We had talked about it, for about a year ... and agreed that he would have to do that, someday.

His house is at the bottom of a hill, and the steps are terrible in the winter. He knows he has to leave, must move to a safer place.

He said he can afford to do this, but he is angry that his many years of paying for extended care insurance do not apply to assisted living. He cautioned me to read the fine print.

Have you seen, "Sicko" -- the film?
No, I said
Well, you see it ... you see it. It's all true.

I have never given much thought to elder issues ... except to get my friends to promise that, when I am at Shady Acres, they will see to three things:
• pluck my chin hairs
• don't let them put me in a housedress
• keep my glasses frames updated

This is reason enough to always have a few friends who are younger ... and still have all their marbles.


I had a terrible day, yesterday. Boiled down, I tried to get my new internet service provider to behave like The Vermont Country Store: A real person answers the phone, has a gracious way about her, takes my order, thanks me and we hang up.

Instead, I clicked on five telephone buttons to connect with 11 menu items and wound up talking to a kid who told me to remove a disc I know I didn't insert and to turn off my computer. Well, that solved the problem of the spinning circle and the endless download I was supposed to do, but it didn't answer my questions and I still had no idea how to eject a disc I never inserted. He also rattled off all the other services I might want to purchase.

I thought, "If it's this difficult to get my email from you people, why the hell would I want your phone service, too?"

I didn't say it, of course, although I did tell the next fellow that the kid told me to turn off my computer, which I did, and now I cannot get my computer to turn on. Well, it is on, but just the Apple logo and another spinning thing ... for about 10 minutes, now. Could he help me?

"And ... it's a Mac." Might as well get that out of the way, up front, as it seemed to annoy the kid.

This time I got an older fella. I like them. They talk slower and have less tendency to say, "Huh?" He told me none of the internet service providers know much about Macs and I shouldn't have installed what the kid told me to install, and the message I kept getting that the download would take 6 more hours wasn't true ... and that I didn't need to install the disc. "Don't know why he told you to do that."

"Just shoot me." I said.

Suddenly, magically, the computer screen filled with wallpaper, files and icons!

"It's .... back!!"

He walked me to the new "post office." I got my mail, thanked him and we hung up.

One of the emails is from the ISP, wanting to know how I like their service and would I like to add phones.

Just shoot me.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


©2007 Celeste Billhartz

Each time I meet an adoptee or a mother, or hear/read their stories, I must remember that, regardless of our similarities and differences, we are all together on this Earth, twirling around the Sun, hoping tomorrow will be better.

I have chosen to befriend people from many walks of Life ... and they have chosen to befriend me. I must remember that we need not agree on everything, and that I must be careful not to allow the larger disagreements more space in my heart than is necessary to maintain my boundaries and be civil.

I would hope that kindness and honesty are values we all share -- I mean really share, not just talk about -- regardless of our experiences, views, biases and preferences.

Some have lived through unimaginable horror, betrayal and loss ... and have come through it all (I don't know how) with their humanity in place, their hands extended, their hearts open.

Other have not. They cannot; or will not.

They slip and slide on the slopes of half-truth and denial; or stand in holes they have dug for themselves ... screaming at the night sky.

I still like them, but I don't trust them, fully, with my heart or my candor ... or my playfulness, lest I get trampled by their insensitivity, fear or rage.

Of course, I forget -- their "stuff" isn't about me.

May we all know, despite our differences, we are loved, the world spins on ... and tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Adoption Show

This amazing, innovative internet radio program is as close as your computer -

Host, producer and creator, Michelle Edmunds and her techie genius, Thaddeus Pedro (producer and web designer) - along with their staff - bring the truth about adopting to the world. Yes, TAS is heard/seen on computers around the world!

I met Michelle in New York City in 2006 and, as adoptees, we share many heart-to-heart conversations. In fact, when I first talked with her, prior to my appearing on The Adoption Show in July 2006, I realized that our lengthy and open discussion was the first – the very first – totally honest and fulfilling conversation about adoption I had ever had in my entire life. I was 67 years old.

Michelle is a gifted and generous host who takes on the thorny issues in adoption and handles them – and the guests -- with fairness and grace.

The Adoption Show originates in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Subscribers can access current and past show. Get your subscription, today!

For $25.00 a year you can learn the truth about ending the myths, meet some awesome people who are the legends of the past, storytellers of the present and leaders of the future.

TAS is like a favorite "magazine" I can "read and hear" anytime ...:)

Activists, organizations and advocates for adoption reform please alert your members/readers to go to the TAS web site and subscribe TODAY!

Friday, November 9, 2007

What's Best for Mothers and Babies

What's Best for Mothers and Babies
©2007 Celeste Billhartz

I have a friend who is convinced that all adopted babies are/were removed from their mothers for good reasons and that adoption is always in the best interests of the babies.

She cautions me to be less strident about expressing my anti-adopting views. I don't argue with her because she is older and a lot smarter about life.

I know my views are difficult for her to hear. She volunteers her time on behalf of an organization that supports and encourages young mothers to surrender their infants for adoption. She sees really mixed-up teens who are reckless, irresponsible and drug-addicted. No doubt, their babies would suffer in their care. Taking them from their mothers makes sense, of course.

My departure from my friend's view is around the issue of adopting -- selling the babies to strangers. (Or, non-profit organizations accepting a large "donation" in exchange for them.)

Even infants-at-risk ought to be kept within their familes, with responsible, caring adults -- grannies, aunties, cousins, supportive friends. The mothers and babies could also benefit from wise and caring mentors, too.

I believe women-of-conscience who want to adopt should become mentors, instead. They should help mothers and babies, not separate them. At some point they must realize that their willingness to pay tens of thousands of dollars for an infant is the reason adopting is a billion-dollar a year industry that flourishes in North America.

Because we now know that the girl/mothers of past generations -- who were forced to surrender their babies -- never got over that loss, we must stop taking babies from young mothers who do not pose a threat to them, but simply are young, gullible and unmarried when they give birth.

Yes, having a baby changes everything. Yes, dreams get put on hold. Yes, life is never the same. That's why it is so important that families welcome mother and baby home, that we-- as a society -- show compassion for young single mothers instead of shaming them, and that women shift their desires from buying a baby to helping many mothers and children make their way in the world.
To really get a new perspective on babies who are/were separated from their natural mothers, read Julie Rist's blog -- Lizard Chronicles: Happy Adoptees

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Biases and Preferences

Biases and Preferences
©2007 Celeste Billhartz

I could take the high road on this post and talk about preferences. I could say I prefer to see balding men wear their hair very short and parted at what's left of their natural part, but really, my stronger feeling is a bias -- I hate long comb-overs and those awful hairpieces that look like plaster casts.

And, I could say I prefer to hear people say, "et cetera" -- but, the truth is, when they say, "ekcetera, ekcetera, ekcetera" -- it gnaws the patience right off my bones.

• samwich -- the word is SANDwich -- dear God, it's bad enough I hear it in normal conversation, but to hear it in commercials is .... is .... annoying, ... ekcetera, ekcetera, ekcetera. (Sorry, couldn't resist ..:)

I could do that, say things in a better way, but I'm old and cranky, so, here are more of my biases:

• aggressive, inconsiderate drivers who grossly exceed the speed limit, do not maintain a clear distance from the vehicle in front of them, dangerously cut in front of others, and who never wave, "Thank you" when the rest of us let them pull in front of us. They are almost always young men.

• selfish adopters who refuse to return infants to young mothers who change their minds soon after giving birth. Hey -- ladies --- it is inhumane to keep those babies! There is something very wrong with a society that thinks adopter-rights supercede mothers' rights in those cases. Well, money talks.

(Uh oh, I feel a rant comin' on ...:)

Because so many girl/mothers change their minds, we -- as a civil and compassionate society -- ought to presume that will happen, expect it to happen, and hold several new thoughts:
1. adopters, don't count on getting that baby from that mother.
2. mothers, expect that you might change your mind after giving birth.
3. grandparents, what the hell are you thinking??? Support your daughters!!
4. adoption workers, don't promise the adopters a baby and don't insist that the mothers stick with their initial plan to surrender.
5. the babies should stay with their mothers, when mothers change their minds. No more long, drawn-out court business that is designed to keep infants away from their mothers and is intended to give adopters the right, in a few years, to say, "The baby has bonded with us."
6. two months is a good time to hold off on any binding, final agreement.

We know, now, that the mothers who suffered coerced surrender back in the BSE and in recent decades, never got over losing their babies. That, alone, ought to change our minds, laws and practices about taking infants from their mothers and natural families.

The adopters are supported in their "theft" by doctors, lawyers and adoption workers -- and many civilians -- who do not understand or care that a wrong was done. They only see the desires of the adopters -- really, the female adopters -- who have more power and money than the girl/mothers.

The adoption industry knows most mothers change their minds after they give birth. That's why they -- and adopters -- do the selfish things they do.

(Well, now, I feel better ...)

Back to my biases:

• anything that is priced .99 -- you know, $9.99, or $14.99, etc. What's up with that? What the hell goes through a merchant's head that he/she thinks we are so stupid as to settle for something that is $4.99, when what we really want is $5.00. I know, some marketing research study says we are that stupid. Well, I won't buy something that is priced that way ... unless I really want it.

• haggling, persistent bargaining, etc. I don't know how to do that and I get really irritated when people do that to me. I seldom respond to "On Sale!!" lures ... unless it is something I want anyway, and I am standing there in front of the item, and can afford to buy it.

• ok, call me crazy but why must I pay more for one less egg? Today I had breakfast at one of my fav places and I ordered two pancakes, two sausage patties, and one egg.

My habit is to eat one pancake, one egg and one patty at the restaurant, pack up the other cake and patty to take home for another meal -- with an egg from home.

The server said that's more expensive-- one egg -- than getting two eggs, etc. Huh? I don't understand, really. The cook has to fry one more egg, the owner has to buy one more egg, and now I have another egg I have to use up before it spoils ... and it's gonna get darn over done when I reheat it.

Well, another tasty snack for Coonie -- my nightly visitor who never turns down a free meal out here in the woods.

• you'll probably find this odd, given my penchant for listing my biases instead of my preferences, but ... I dislike unfairness and meanness. I mean, we are all entitled to our failings and a well-managed snit now and then, but habitual public displays of rudeness and unkindness just baffle me. You know the kind -- patrons being rude to servers, people with power being impatient with customers and clients who have disabilities, that sort of thing.

• telephone sales calls. Ok, I'm on the "do not call list" and I still get called. That's bad enough, but what really frosts me is the stupidity of any company that thinks I -- a 68 year old middle-class woman -- am going to have anything positive to share with a 20 year old kid who rattles off barely-understandable English at break-neck speed from a prepared script ... or an obviously foreign national named "Nancy" or "Kevin". What the hell are they thinking??

Good God, if you are going to interrupt my day, have a middle-aged American call who doesn't speed-talk -- or say, "excetera, excetera, excetera" -- and has some sense of manners. Oh, sorry, I forgot ... employers no longer value the middle class in this country. Besides, they'd have to pay them a living wage.

• unruly children. I cannot imagine being a parent, let alone being a good parent (!), so please forgive my ignorance and intolerance of noisy, demanding children in public. I am one of a handful of females who never wanted to conceive, give birth to nor raise children.

Still, I adore moments -- those once-in-a-liftetime moments captured on film about kids. A look, a balk, a smile ... so wonderfully explicit about the naivete of children.

I would rather have hot sticks poked into my eyes than be around most children, even those very normal and friendly types belonging to my friends. I simply don't know how to "be" with children. I think I am too business-like, but that does manage to keep them at a distance, thank God.

Truly, I don't think my "Mamma" wires are well-connected. So far as my relating with children is concerned, there's no "there" there ...:) Needless to say, I become flushed and nauseous when handed an infant.

I was an only child, probably well-behaved, and generally agreeable. I remember a favorite adoptive auntie whose method of babysitting was to set me in front of the cuckoo clock and tell me to wait for the bird to come out.

That probably accounts for my well-honed attention to detail -- which pleases me and annoys the hell out of friends. I am one of those nettlesome few who email back the latest report on every well-meaning urban legend ever sent around the internet.

Are there women-curmudgeons? My friends would say, "Indeed!"...:)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Shopping for a Church

Shopping for a Church
©2007 Celeste Billhartz

Oh, Lordy, all the nuns who taught me for most of my life will plotz and those who are gone will spin in their graves, but -- I am shopping for a new church!

I want a place that is pleasant, friendly and where I don't have to stand and kneel, stand and kneel so much. Sigh. I've been church shopping for about three months now.

I tried the Catholics, the Episcopalians, and the Unitarian-Universalists.

First, I went to the Episcopalians. Lovely church, so retro-Craftsman era, etc. My favorite kind of "look". However, I soon tired of the up-down-up-down quasi-Catholic stuff. Scratch the Episcopalians (I apologize to my fellow-WASPs, of which I am half.)

Then, I tried the Unitarian-Universalists. Now, there's a study in retro. I hadn't seen that many men with ponytails since the 60's. A very smart bunch, they had a presentation on computers. Yes, the sermon was about computers.

Now, I like computers, and I loved the 60's, but I didn't "get" the church service. Still, there was no up and down, up and down, so I might try them, again. Also, they don't dress up like the Catholics and the Episcopalians, so that's a point in their favor, too.

Ah, the Catholics. Well, I tried a 10am Mass and, except for the up and down, up and down, I liked the familiar scents and rituals. But, it wasn't as user-friendly as the UUs, nor as welcoming and well-appointed as the WASPs.

I think what I am ready for, spiritually, is something intellectually stimulating, more of a discussion group. I don't know how that ties in with "spiritual" but, that's what I want ... and no up and down, up and down...:)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Early Afternoon, Same Day

Early Afternoon, Same Day
©2007 Celeste Billhartz

Well, that little snit out of the way, here are more thoughts for this sunny afternoon:

You know the Robert Burns line, "Man's inhumanity to man"? Well, I decided that adopting is "Woman's inhumanity to woman."
I hear about some happy-camper moms in those Open Adoption
arrangements, but my advocacy is on behalf of the BSE (Baby Scoop Era 1940's - 1970's) moms who were severely, unconscionably, brutally taken advantage of by authorities -- and by their own mothers -- to take their infants from them.

The authorities -- many of them women -- wanted the infants to supply the adoption industry. The consumers were women. Don't get misled by the photo of a loving couple -- women wanted those babies ... and they got them.

The girl/mothers were abandoned by their own mothers. I don't care how long ago it happened or what your reasons were, YOU owe your daughter an apology. That is sooooooo important. Just put aside your pride and tell her: "I am sorry I gave your child away."

One of my mom-friends had that experience of her mother's apology, and it was greatly appreciated.
I don't hate adoptive parents, don't hate my adoptive parents, nor any of my adoptive relatives. I just hate adopting. I should never have been taken from my mother, nor should most of the children who were/are taken from their mothers.

The "most" is to acknowledge the very few babies whose mothers were/are terrible and ought not parent and the few who do not want to parent. That said, even those babies should stay within their families -- with grandma, auntie, cousin, good family friend.

Fat chance, since states and agencies make money/bonuses when kids are ADOPTED from foster care. Oh, don't get me started on that!
Gee, I had intended this blog to be warm and fuzzy. Guess my activism is sooooooo deeply felt I can't separate it from the rest of my life.
Things I love:
Hershey's Nuggets with milk chocolate, toffee and almonds
Real maple syrup on blueberry pancakes
Maple cereals
Clothes from Lands End and LL Bean
Catalogues from Magellan and Territory Ahead
"Tweed" perfume and talc from The Vermont Country Store
Non-fiction reading
Solitaire -- not the computer version. I have several decks of large-print cards -- one for travel and one for home.
Scrabble -- I want one of those travel-versions.
Crosswords -- love to bring my big book of NY Times crosswords to share with other volunteers at our local public radio station fund-drive. When we aren't answering the phones and taking pledges, we solve puzzles.
Natural fibers.
Woodsy places, forests, wildlife.
Lunch with friends.
Cooking -- I love to cook, especially old-fashioned meals I learned at home, from my German adoptive family. My favorite is Pork Roast, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans and applesauce.
Speaking of lunch: I have several "Lunch Buddies" -- women I have known for a long time and a few newly-met, with whom I meet, in two's or three's, about once a month or so. What makes these events so interesting is that they have never met each other! We are kindred-spirits because of politics or old days or interests, etc. I love them all. I think we stay friends because we don't annoy each other with our biases. lol

I am, clearly, anti-adopting and most are pro-adopting. I am a registered Republican, and most are Democrats. Still, we manage to be loving and kind to each other. They are very supportive of The Mothers Project and those who have seen my little DVD, Prayer for Truth, have been so moved by it. I told them, they will probably all meet at my funeral. Well, if I ever get my longer DVD done about The Mothers Project, I will have a showing of it and invite them all.

Thoughts for early today

Sure, I like the outdoors. I'm happiest sitting on a porch and looking at it -- with a Perfect Rob Roy in one hand and some nachos in the other.
Hillary lost my vote last night when she waffled and kissed-ass with the "let's give driver licenses to illegal aliens" folks. Hillary -- what part of illegal don't you understand??

Here's the thing -- the illegals who come here to work are not the enemy; the enemy is every greedy American employer who hires them and pays them peanuts, instead of hiring young men and women who are American citizens. We -- who hire contractors and lawn services and other businesses -- ought to refuse to contract with them.

There are many healthy, strong young people who do not have a way out of their hard lives who could get a chance by working for a living wage. Shame on American employers for overlooking them and for taking advantage of illegals. Shame on American homeowners and consumers for buying services and products that line the pockets of these cheap and greedy businesses.

I don't have enough interest in this to take the time and effort to only buy legally-harvested produce, but I sure can question potential home services.

Anyway, shame on you, Hillary -- what a disappointment you are! I didn't know, until last night that you're no different from every other pandering pol. Damn.

I am so naive.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

First Post

First Post


I have a web site - The Mothers Project - Celeste Billhartz
but, I wanted a less formal way to communicate with you.

This blog is very personal. When I was born, my mother baptized me Ruth. Because she was single, Catholic and middle class, she was not allowed to keep me. Her mother and everyone around her, all those in authority, told her I was dying, and if she wanted me baptized, she must sign a form. What she signed was a release for adoption. She thought her baby died.

I was taken to an orphanage and re-named, Mary. Eventually, I was adopted and re-named, Celeste -- after my adoptive mother, Celestine.

This blog is the "relaxed me" as opposed to the more reserved, serious, public me in my web site. The real me shines forth, of course, when I speak or present The Mothers Project.

It's a beautiful day and I hope you are happy and healthy. I will write more at another time. CB