Concerned United Birthparents, “Separated By Adoption? What Is CUB?”

Source: Courtesy of  Concerned United Birthparents

“Who cares about keeping this family together?” was the poignant question posed by Concerned United Birthparents from its inception in 1976.

CUB (Concerned United Birthparents, Inc.) is a non profit organization that began its official existence in October 1976, by Lee Campbell. A small group gathered to provide mutual support for birthparents, men and women who had surrendered children to adoption. CUB membership and purpose have greatly expanded since those early days. CUB continues to evolve each year.

CUB members now include birthparents, adoptees, adoptive parents, other adoption affected people and professionals. CUB’s purposes are providing mutual support for coping with the ongoing challenges of adoption, working for adoption reform in law and social policy, preventing unnecessary family separations, assisting adoption separated relatives in searching for family members, and educating the public about adoption issues and realities.

People sometimes mistakenly assume the surrender of a child ends a traumatic time for birthparents and is soon forgotten. Robin Winkler, in his study of birthmothers, reports that even forty years later birthparents regard the surrender of a child to adoption as the most stressful experience of their lives. He found that for half of birthparents the pain of the surrender remains as intense or intensifies over time. The loss of a child to adoption affect many areas of life, particularly marriage, subsequent children and difficulty trusting other people.

Adoptive parents frequently lack the information they need in order to assist their children with developing healthy self identity and obtaining needed medical services. In increasing numbers, adoptive parents have joined CUB in efforts to understand the issues confronting their children. They begin to recognize that adoption is a blended family situation in which they are the nurturing parents, and their children have birthparents. They believe that sealing their children’s original birth certificates implies adoption is inadequate and must be disguised as birth. They resent this lack of respect for the authenticity of adoptive parenting. They are learning they have the right to know the other parents who love their child.

Growing up in an adoptive home is different than growing up in a family of parents and children who are genetically related. Adoptees share their love and lives with adoptive parents. They do not share their genes and birthparent histories. Adoptees’ bodies, talents, health and genes come from their birthparents. Adoptees need to know their origins and birthfamilies. This need to know does not indicate a lack of love for adoptive parents, but shows the adoptees are secure enough in their adoptive parents’ love to pursue their need to know their backgrounds.

Mutual support through monthly meetings, our CUB Communicator, correspondence and phone calls helps members cope with the challenge of dealing with adoption difficulties and feelings.

Many CUB members work to promote legislative and social policy changes to require fully informing families, including single parent families, of all alternatives and services available to them and to assist them in keeping their families together. There are some parents whose situation, even with support, does not permit them to raise their children. When adoption is truly necessary, we encourage changes that would make adoption a humane and caring alternative, not a punishment. Closed adoption harms all parties by imposing secrecy on people who do not want it. We encourage openness, honesty and cooperation in adoption.

Birthparents often surrender because of a temporary lack of resources, not a lack of love. Parents unable to raise their children should have a voice in who will raise them. Denying loving parents knowledge of their children, even when their children are adults, is a cruel and unnecessary punishment that causes suffering for birthparents and their families. Birthparents’ love for their children does not end at the time of their surrender.

Many agencies arrange open adoptions. It benefits adoptees and adoptive parents to be able to answer medical questions doctors ask with the assurance that up to date answers are available. Adoptive parents can reassure their children that their birthparents are loving people. Many adoptive parents feel that knowing the birthparents as people gives them freedom from unwarranted fears about the birthparents. Knowing their child’s history allows them to help their children grow into whole people whose backgrounds are accepted facts, not frightening fantasies.

By denying adoptees knowledge of their origins and birth families, our society treats adults as eternal children. Like other citizens, every adoptee has a distinct genetic background and history. Yet unlike other citizens, adoptees in many states are never considered old enough to have a right to know their backgrounds. If adoption is to serve the needs of all parties, it must be changed to address people’s needs at the time of surrender and placement, and throughout their lives. This means social and legal recognition of the facts that adoptees grow up, and that living with truth is healthier than living with fears and fantasies.

Many CUB members live with the pain of being separated from family members and living in incomplete families. The circumstances leading to the surrender of a child are often temporary and can be overcome with caring support. A temporary lack of finances or support should not be a reason for a loving parent and child to be separated. To prevent unnecessary separations, members have welcomed young mothers and their children into their homes. By providing temporary support, we have been able to help vulnerable young families overcome temporary difficulties so they could be strong, healthy, positive families. CUB members eagerly share their own situations and feelings with young parents-to-be and their families. CUB has provided a booklet concerning the choices available to people experiencing an unplanned pregnancy because of our concern that parents be informed of alternatives and choices.

CUB is not a search organization. We may suggest reliable searchers. We let members know of other search groups in their area. Perhaps our most important service to searchers is to provide emotional support during search. We help searchers be sensitive to others’ needs as they plan for contact and reunion. Members who are not close to a branch receive support and information through our newsletters, emails and phone calls with CUB leaders and members.

CUB has a strong interest in educating not only adoption affected individuals but also society in general. Many of our members and leaders volunteer their time to speak to community groups about issues relating to family separation and adoption.


Source: Concerned United Birthparents, “Separated by Adoption? What is CUB?” (Des Moines: Concerned United Birthparents), undated.

Page Updated: 6-22-2005
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To learn more about The Adoption History Project, please contact Ellen Herman
Department of History, University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-1288
(541) 346-3118
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