Tina Traster, Carrie O’Toole, aka, The Monsters of Adoption

There’s a difference between being anti-adoptive-parent and anti-narcissistic-exploitive-commodifying-culturally-out-of-touch-adoptive-parent.

Kevin Haebeom Vollmers

The Land of Gazillion Adoptees Facebook and Twitter admins have been going to town on Tina Traster in the last few days.  All snark aside (a hallmark of LGA FB and Twitter), we fundamentally believe that Tina Traster is unethically using her daughter to advance her career.  Tina’s narcissistic drive/need/desire for attention and her actions to paint herself as a victim and her daughter as some sort of monster are bordering on mental and emotional child abuse.  What type of adoptive parent, or any type of parent, says this about her own daughter, whom she CHOSE to bring into her life, publicly in books, magazines, and television?

“If I had been asked to describe Julia, this is the list I would have come up with independently. The child is ‘superficially charming and engaging, particularly among strangers she feels she can manipulate.'” (source)  

Because of our statements made…

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12 responses to “Tina Traster, Carrie O’Toole, aka, The Monsters of Adoption

  1. I am often struck by the very question: “Are you anti-adoptive parent?” when I read criticisms (including some on this blog) of international adoption or of the actions of some individual adoptive parents.

    I’m still trying to sort this out in my mind. Where IS the line between shining a light on the problems of international adoption (and there ARE problems) and making it sound like a criminal racket and, by extension, adoptive parents sound like co-conspirators? Where IS the line between offering good advice to trans-racial adoptive parents about culture and identity on the one hand and hectoring them for not turning their home into a miniature version of the child’s birth country on the other?

    At any rate, I understand why people are so adamantly against this Traster person. If what I read about her is true (and I’ve not read her books or articles myself, so I’m only getting one side), then she’s a pretty loathesome person for using her daughter’s (alleged?) problems to get attention and sympathy and even money for herself.


    • I think the pointing out the exploitation and harmful words written by this one lady, Tina Traster, in particular can also showcase a larger problem in mainstream adoption rhetoric. And that is that, for the most part, adoptive parents can get their books published as well as be printed in reputable newspapers and magazines even if their words are demeaning, invasive, and ignorant. At the same time, adoptees have trouble getting published and face hurdles adoptive parents aren’t placed through in a professional setting. Adoption literature remains heavily dominated by adoptive parents, despite the Tina Trasters and Carrie O’Tooles out there.


  2. That was an excellent statement. I am familiar with Traster’s “project” and I have read most of her stuff. I encourage others here to do the same. I also look forward to more excellent critiques of “Traster -think” as exemplified in the recent Traster/Travesty article.

    Traster has betrayed Julia in ways that will affect her for many years.
    She has violated Julia’s privacy. Julia needs to be able to trust her adoptive mother and she can’t. This may be enormously painful for Julia.

    But it appears that Traster has a history violating other people’s boundaries. Traster had a dispute with her parents about how they chose to write their wills. She couldn’t get what she wanted from them. So she used her perch as a member of the fourth estate to publicize the dispute and embarrass her folks:

    I have no opinion about this dispute – it’s between them. I do have an opinion about the fact that Traster made it public. I know that lots of folks like to call her a narcissist. But for me, she may just be dancing in those diagnoses that end with “——-path.” How do ya like that? I just looked up some stuff on the internet and I diagnosed someone. Pretty cool huh? And by the way, her parents were not the only folks who became the objects of Traster’s punishment via publication. There are others.


  3. Jim,
    I’m “pro children’s rights”, “pro-family”, and “pro-adoptee rights”. I am supportive of many other groups too, too many to list.

    I’m not “anti-adoptive parent”, but I don’t support or feel a need to support AP’s who are not pro-children’s rights, pro-family, or pro-adoptee. I support and encourage AP’s to join us in pushing for better children’s rights, better family preservation, and better adoptee rights. The AP’s I’m most familiar with are resourceful, educated, and driven. They know how to open a book, open a website, open an email. They can book flights, understand calculus and other complex matters. Yet, when it comes to understanding where babies come from (despite being evolutionists, zoologists, researchers, psychologists, doctors, and having traveled the world over), many (or perhaps the most vocal) seem unable/unwilling to understand that their adoptlings were born from other people and have connections elsewhere.

    I’m also aware that some AP’s have gone so far as to REMOVE adoptees’ rights. Eighty years ago, AP Gov. Lehman in NY signed a bill that permanently and legally removed the right for strictly adopted people to ever have their true original birth certificate. You can find out more about him and where he acquired his adoptlings by watching A Baby Thief, about Georgia Tann, a famous serial baby-trafficker to politicians and celebrities. Where are the AP’s in lobbying, writing legislators, articles, funding, educating themselves etc. to restore adoptee rights? Adoptee rights? Adoptee rights? Rights? Rights? Did you hear that echo?

    AP’s made a choice to adopt. Many also choose to turn their backs on protecting children, respecting their families, while accepting less ethical practices. As long as AP’s and the public are silent on calling out AP’s and HAP’s on their bs and financially supporting this industry, this disrespect and trampling of children, their families, and their rights will continue. Look at Katie Holmes today – no man is “willing to put up with complications and publicity surrounding her”, so she’s decided to put a defenseless infant into this environment? Reminds me of a recent adoptee blog about the Adoption Carnival – fun for everyone except the confused, traumatized child. And Miss Katie has been feeling blue, so instead of shopping for shoes, she’s now shopping for a human pet for her daughter, and she gets PRAISE for this? What about this infant who has no choice? What about this infant’s family who is likely going through one of the most difficult times in their life, and probably due to poverty or the effects on poverty? Miss Katie can’t help with their poverty, because she wants to go shopping!! http://www.womansday.com.au/celebrity/celebrity-headlines/2014/6/katie-holmes-adoption-joy-a-sibling-for-suri!/

    One year ago, Australian govt issued an overdue apology for the pain and destruction from their Stolen Generation policies. Today, the govt is bringing back the Stolen Generation, lead/supported by, guess who? Yep, adoptive parents. A famous AP of a child whose first mother committed suicide after AP’s closed the previously open adoption – ain’t that sweet? And another well-known AP who’s career has been built on examining children before overseas export.

    And numerous other “noble” figures running the adoption industry, n’est-ce pas? And who has to deal with the aftermath? Yep, the adoptees, first as children and once grown up. But AP’s get to say “we aren’t in the child-centric years anymore”, or if they’re “generous”, they’ll “offer to forgive” the adoptees for raising their voice, for recognizing their human-like self-curiosity about themselves, for finally finding something that is meaningful and important to them, for finally making choices in their own lives, and/or for taking a courageous and unpopular stand against injustices in this unequal world, because it’s the right thing to do for children, for families, and for humanity.

    I know of a few AP’s who do take courageous stands for their children and other children, but far too many freely let their children deal with this all alone.

    If you don’t like heat, then stay out of the kitchen. Unfortunately, adoptees were thrown into the kitchen. Without helmets.

    I’m not always so crabby, and I appreciate AP’s/HAP’s who listen, digest, and take a stand with those most impacted and voiceless in these transactions Some do, many do not.


    • Let us stipulate that adoption is based on circumstances (poverty, social preference for boys, war, disease, etc.) that nobody desires. Let us further stipulate that nobody (other than a sociopath) is actively”anti-child” or “anti-family”. We all want what is best for the children and everybody else concerned.

      But what does that mean?

      I suppose that the law your refer to is NY Public Health Law §§ 4138-c; 4138-d. Shall we assume that Gov. Lehman and all the NY state legislators who voted for it were NOT pro-child or pro-family? Consider that the verbiage of the law doesn’t just attempt to prevent adopted children from learning about their origins: it also attempts to hide their identity from their parents and family. For example:

      The department and/or an authorized agency may restrict the nature of the non-identifying information released pursuant to this section upon a reasonable determination that disclosure of such non-identifying information would not be in the adoptee’s, biological sibling’s, or parent’s best interest. * [emphasis mine – JR]

      Now, why might the NY authorities have done this?

      Something I have learned (or, at least, started to come to terms with) throughout my own adoption journey is that people make bad decisions. Not “bad” as in “ill-considered” but bad as in wicked or evil. Or, at least, they can be seen as such by other people. For example, it’s wicked to abandon a child in the hopes that somebody else will care for him… unless, of course, the alternative is his near-certain death from disease or hunger or even infanticide.

      I suggest that the NY law was motivated by a genuine desire to protect EVERYBODY associated with an adoption. I can only suppose, given that it was passed during the Great Depression when abandonment of children apparently was regrettably common in our country, the state legislators thought that, in the best interest of the children AND birth parents, it would be best to bury the past to prevent children being plucked from their permanent homes (possibly by relatives they didn’t remember) or parents having their guilt for abandoning their children take a physical, accusing form years later.

      Nearly a century later, attitudes regarding adoption have (somewhat) changed in our country, and I see that there is a movement in NY to change this law. But I wonder… how many people would adopt if they knew that their children could be taken from them without warning by a relative (or somebody claiming to be such) years later? And how good is this for children?

      Finally, are we to believe that Katie Holmes, Tina Traster, Madonna etc. are the “face of adoption”? Are they really representative of adoptive parents? Or are adoptive parents actually rather more normal people who do their very best to love and care for their children AS THEIR CHILDREN and not as playthings, fashion accessories, amateur psychology experiments, etc? I suggest that the latter is the case for the vast majority of us.





      • Jim,
        I appreciate that you looked up the NYS public health law, or that you knew it before. The NY movement has been going on for a while (with much resistance). Here is more recent information on how it affects many affected by it:

        1) http://www.legislativegazette.com/Articles-c-2014-06-16-88284.113122-Birth-records-a-matter-of-life-and-death-for-some.html
        2) very rare coverage by NYTimes about this topic: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/16/nyregion/adopted-children-fight-for-access-to-birth-certificates.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar&_r=0

        Please sign and share:

        History of NY authorities and Georgia Tann’s practices and influence (correction: 48 states sealed adoptees’ records, not 50 states, as Ms. Raymond states):

        Regarding people’s hesitation to adopt fearing that child could be suddenly taken by relatives later on… that’s a very good reason for making sure that adoptions aren’t done hastily without consultation/input from relatives, but rather are done after a well-investigated decision, respect for the child’s original family, and due process. For the child, growing up with relatives should be given greater priority than growing up with strangers. The lifelong repercussions of growing up without any genetic mirrors, even more so in most international/transracial adoptions, shouldn’t be ignored. Subjecting children to future tug-of-wars ain’t cool either. That may mean fewer stranger adoptions, but again, we’re talking about the children, THEIR future lives, and generations.

        Whether or not Katie Holmes, Madonna, Brangelina, Travesty represent most adoptions, their faces are everywhere (and their children’s too). Celebrity adoptions run rampant, and much of the public look to the celebrities to give them or reinforce ideas on ‘exciting’ ways to live – their image is what makes money. They have a lot of influence on culture, politics, charities, morality (or decline of), because if they have the connections, fame, $$ to get anyone’s ear-time for future business deals. Look at the sequel to Australia’s Stolen Generation with PM Tony Abbot. Sounds like a business model, not a child protections policy or family preservation system.


      • Whether or not Katie Holmes, Madonna, Brangelina, Travesty represent most adoptions, their faces are everywhere (and their children’s too). Celebrity adoptions run rampant, and much of the public look to the celebrities to give them or reinforce ideas on ‘exciting’ ways to live – their image is what makes money.

        You have a point there.


  4. Both of these women, Tina Traster and Carrie O’Toole, are disturbing in their own ways. Traster has divulged so much personal information about her daughter in her book, in articles, and in interviews that it will be next to impossible for her daughter to ever have a sense of normalcy. It is beyond my comprehension how a mother could put ANY rationale ( giving hope to other adoptive parents) ahead of her daughter’s right to privacy, respect, and emotional safety. Traster either knows this and doesn’t care because she needs to be seen as a savior, wants to advance her career and make money, or both, OR she really is clueless which speaks to the need for better screening of potential adoptive parents.

    O’Toole is even more disgusting. She adopted a child, rehomed him, and has now written a book about it. In a recent article, she portrayed herself as a victim of this child, placing the blame squarely on his shoulders starting from the time he was three! Reading it, one would believe that he was a monster who was able to fool EVERYONE and that he was personally out to get her! Funny thing is, he seemed to do well in the other home where he was welcomed. And, write a book about this horrific act of giving away the child you adopted and promised to treat as a child born to you? Is there no end to the selfishness, insensitivity, self justification, and downright NERVE?

    Parenting is not a right. It is a commitment and a responsibility. Don’t become one unless you are ready to be a child’s parent always, even when it gets tough, and please, please ,please, don’t act like you are a saint because you stick it out and invest time and resources in helping your child. That’s exactly what you signed on to do when you adopted.


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